In re Angela E.

The Tennessee Supreme Court recently resolved a split among the Courts of Appeals regarding procedure in termination of parental rights cases, which cases are usually a precursor to an adoption.  The Western Section of the Court of Appeals opined that a trial court does not have to make the statutorily-required findings and conclusions when the termination is unopposed.  The Middle Section said a trial court does have to make those findings, noting they “simply disagree” with the Western Section.

On February 16, 2010, the Tennessee Supreme Court resolved the disagreement by agreeing with the Middle Section and holding that a trial court must make the statutorily-required findings and conclusions before granting a petition to terminate parental rights even when the petition is unopposed.

This all came about after a father first agreed to have his rights terminated so the stepfather could adopt but then changed his mind shortly after the trial court granted the petition.

In re Angela E. (Tenn. S. Ct. Feb. 16, 2010).

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K.O. Herston is a family-law attorney in Knoxville, Tennessee whose practice is devoted exclusively to family law, including divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, prenuptial agreements, and other aspects of family law.

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