Written by attorney Mary G. Commander

Virginia Infant Safe Haven Law

Infant Safe Haven Law

Parents have the ability, without the prospect of criminal or civil liability, of delivering their infant child to a "safe haven".

Infant's Age Virginia Code §§ 18.2-371.1; 40.1-103 A child may be relinquished within the first 14 days after his or her birth. Who May Relinquish the Infant Virginia Code §§ 18.2-371.1; 40.1-103 The child may be relinquished by his or her parent. Who May Receive the Infant Virginia Code §§ 18.2-371.1; 40.1-103 The child may be delivered to:

  • A hospital that provides 24-hour emergency services
  • A rescue squad that employs emergency medical technicians

Immunity for the Provider Virginia Code § 8.01-226.5:2 Any personnel of a hospital or rescue squad receiving a child who has been voluntarily relinquished by his or her parent shall be immune from civil liability or criminal prosecution for injury or other damage to the child unless such injury or other damage is the result of gross negligence or willful misconduct by such personnel. Protection for Relinquishing Parent Virginia Code §§ 18.2-371.1; 40.1-103 Relinquishment of the child shall be an affirmative defense to prosecution of a parent for abuse or neglect of children, cruelty to children, or endangering a child. In order for the affirmative defense to apply, the child shall be delivered in a manner reasonably calculated to ensure the child's safety. Effect on Parental Rights Virginia Code § 63.2-910.1 A local department shall have authority to:

  • Take custody of the child
  • Arrange an appropriate placement
  • Institute proceedings to terminate parental rights

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