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§48-22-306. Conduct presumptively constituting abandonment.

(a) Abandonment of a child over the age of six months shall be presumed when the birth parent:

(1) Fails to financially support the child within the means of the birth parent; and

(2) Fails to visit or otherwise communicate with the child when he or she knows where the child resides, is physically and financially able to do so and is not prevented from doing so by the person or authorized agency having the care or custody of the child: Provided, That such failure to act continues uninterrupted for a period of six months immediately preceding the filing of the adoption petition.

(b) Abandonment of a child under the age of six months shall be presumed when the birth father:

(1) Denounces the child's paternity any time after conception;

(2) Fails to contribute within his means toward the expense of the prenatal and postnatal care of the mother and the postnatal care of the child;

(3) Fails to financially support the child within father's means; and

(4) Fails to visit the child when he knows where the child resides: Provided, That such denunciations and failure to act continue uninterrupted from the time that the birth father was told of the conception of the child until the time the petition for adoption was filed.

(c) Abandonment of a child shall be presumed when the unknown father fails, prior to the entry of the final adoption order, to make reasonable efforts to discover that a pregnancy and birth have occurred as a result of his sexual intercourse with the birth mother.

(d) Notwithstanding any provision in this section to the contrary, any birth parent shall have the opportunity to demonstrate to the court the existence of compelling circumstances preventing said parent from supporting, visiting or otherwise communicating with the child: Provided, That in no event may incarceration provide such a compelling circumstance if the crime resulting in the incarceration involved a rape in which the child was conceived.

Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2017 Regular Session
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