Same-Sex Parents Still Face Legal Complications

This article by Elizabeth Harris in The New York Times will be of interest. Same-sex parents in Tennessee can relate. Same-Sex Parents Still Face Legal Complications At gay pride marches around the country this month, there will be celebrations of marriage, a national right that, at just two years old, feels freshly exuberant to many […]

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Tennessee Supreme Court Ain’t Got Time for All the Dismissed Termination-of-Parental-Rights Appeals: In re Bentley D.

Well, that didn’t take long. A few weeks ago I wrote about the sudden avalanche of appellate decisions dismissing parental-rights-termination cases because the appellant’s lawyer signed the notice of appeal on behalf of the appellant. Recently amended Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-1-124(d) requires that “[a]ny notice of appeal filed in a termination of parental rights […]

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Court Divided over Substantial Noncompliance with Permanency Plan in Bradley County, TN Termination of Parental Rights: In re Damien G. M.

Facts: Mother and Father are the parents of Child. They never married. Child lived with Mother. The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS) received a referral alleging that Child had been exposed to drugs. When Mother appeared in court, she notified the court that she was homeless and without income. After Mother tested positive for […]

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Grounds of Wanton Disregard Reversed in Morristown, TN Termination of Parental Rights Case: In re Jeremimah N.

Facts: Mother gave birth to Child in 2002. In 2007, Maternal Grandmother obtained custody of Child. In 2015, Maternal Grandmother petitioned to terminate Father’s parental rights on grounds of wanton disregard and because Father was sentenced to serve over 10 years in prison. Maternal Grandmother sought to adopt Child. Mother consented to the termination of […]

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Things I Like: Coppock on Tennessee Adoption Law

Dawn Coppock, Esq., is widely recognized as the preeminent authority on Tennessee adoption law. She also happens to be a wonderful person. When I was a “baby lawyer” 20 years ago, one of the partners in the firm where I worked told me to handle a pro bono stepparent adoption for one of the firm’s clients. […]

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Superior Parental Rights at Issue in Pulaski, TN Change of Child Custody: Holley v. Ortiz

Facts: Mother is the biological mother of two children aged 3 and 4. At the time of their births, Mother was unmarried and resided with her parents, the children’s maternal grandparents. Grandparents petitioned to terminate Mother’s parental rights and to adopt the children. They allege that Mother moved out of their home several years earlier […]

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Failure to Terminate Father’s Parental Rights Reversed in Crossville, TN: In re A.B.

Facts: Child 1 was born in February 2009. Shortly thereafter, Father was placed on probation after pleading guilty to a drug charge. In July 2009, he was found guilty of violating his probation. In March 2010, Father was arrested for driving on a suspended license. A subsequent drug investigation resulted in Father’s arrest for violating […]

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K.O. Herston a “Top Attorney” for Divorce, Family Law, Child Support, and Adoption in Knoxville, TN

Once again, I am honored to have been selected by my colleagues in the Knoxville Bar as being among the best divorce, family law, child support, and adoption lawyers in Knoxville. CityView magazine explains: Each year, Cityview calls upon the members of the Knoxville Bar Association to determine which attorneys in East Tennessee are the best in […]

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Tennessee Family Law Legislative Update 2016

Things were relatively quiet on the family-law front this past legislative session. Notably missing, however, was any effort to update the various family-law statutes to account for the constitutionally-protected rights of same-sex parents. Until that happens, Tennessee children and their same-sex parents will continue to navigate in an atmosphere of legal uncertainty. There were several […]

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Termination of Parental Rights Not in Children’s Best Interest in Blountville, TN: In re Aiden R.

Most termination of parental rights cases focus on grounds for termination. If grounds are proven, it often seems as if the second prong of the legal analysis — whether termination is in the child’s best interest — is an afterthought. This case is noteworthy because although grounds were proven, it was not proven that termination was in […]

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A Few Hours in Jail Is Not “Incarcerated” in Knoxville, TN Termination of Parental Rights Case: In re Kaitlin W.

Facts: Father abused prescription drugs. A disturbing incident occurred where Father — while in the presence of the children — injected drugs intravenously and, ultimately, entered into a state of total unconsciousness. The police arrived. Father was arrested and released from jail several hours after his arrest. The children were removed from Father’s care by […]

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Termination of Parental Rights Case Dismissed for Lack of Standing in Fayetteville, TN: In re Ava B.

Facts: Mother and Father adopted Child. Three years later, Mother and Father divorced. Father was designated the primary residential parent for Child while Mother received 80 days of parenting time. Much post-divorce litigation ensued. Seven months after the divorce, Father petitioned to terminate Mother’s parental rights on the grounds that Mother willfully failed to pay […]

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Court Divided Over Statutory Interpretation in Greeneville, TN Termination of Parental Rights Case: In re K.J.G.

Facts: Mother and Stepfather filed a petition to terminate Father’s parental rights and adopt the child. After a trial, the trial court found clear and convincing evidence of grounds to terminate Father’s parental rights and that termination was in the child’s best interest. The trial court entered an order stating its conclusions and attached a […]

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Court of Appeals Disagrees with Tennessee Supreme Court in Memphis Termination of Parental Rights Case: In re Ashton B.

Facts: Child was born to unmarried parents in April 2013. From birth, Child resided continually in Mother’s custody. Father testified he had no knowledge of Child’s birth or existence until June 2013, when Child was approximately three months old. Mother and Child began residing with Father at his sister’s home in July 2013. According to […]

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