Tennessee Supreme Court Says DCS Has No Duty to Make “Reasonable Efforts” at Reunification in Termination of Parental Rights Cases: In re Kaliyah S.

Facts: While Father was incarcerated, the Department of Children’s Services (DCS) petitioned to terminate his parental rights on the statutory ground of abandonment by wanton disregard for the child’s welfare. The trial court concluded DCS was not required to make reasonable efforts to assist Father regarding reunification with Child because the statutory ground of abandonment […]

Read More

Termination of Parental Rights Reversed in Sevierville Because DCS Failed to Make Reasonable Efforts: In re Josephine E.M.C.

Facts: Child was born out of wedlock to Mother and Father. After Mother was arrested while intoxicated and charged with child neglect, Child went into the protective custody of the Department of Children’s Services (DCS). A permanency plan was established and revised a few months later. Eight months later, DCS petitioned to terminate Mother’s parental […]

Read More

Change of Custody Reversed in Memphis Dependency and Neglect Case: In re K.A.P.

Facts: Never-married Mother and Father have one Child, who resided primarily with Mother for approximately the first five years of his life. In February 2011, Father petitioned the Juvenile Court to declare Child dependent and neglected in Mother’s care. The petition included an allegation that Mother left Child with Father for seven weeks, during which […]

Read More

Failure to Promote Relationship With Other Parent Leads to Loss of Child Custody in Nashville: In re Zamorah B.

Facts: Child was born to unmarried Mother and Father. Father filed a Petition to Establish Paternity in which he asserted that he had voluntarily supported Child and had emotionally bonded with her, but that Mother decided two months after Child’s birth to eliminate him from her life. Shortly thereafter, Mother filed a Petition to Establish¬†Parentage. […]

Read More

Tennessee Child Support Services Lacks Authority to Appeal Over “Client’s” Objection: State ex rel., Thorn v. Gentry

Facts: Mother and Father are the parents of Child. In¬†1993, when Mother filed a petition to establish paternity and set child support, the Child Support Services office of the Tennessee Department of Human Services intervened on behalf of Mother. Paternity was established and child support was set. Over the next two decades Father was habitually […]

Read More

Default Judgment Against Active Duty Military Parent: State ex rel. Price v. Childers

Facts: Mother received child support enforcement services from the State of Tennessee. The State, acting on mother’s behalf, filed a petition to establish paternity against Father. Hearing no response from Father, the trial court entered an order by default finding Father to be the biological father of Mother’s child. The order also established Father’s child […]

Read More

Administrative “Indication” of Child Sexual Abuse: Tennessee Dept. of Children’s Services v. Davis

Facts: Davis was the Executive Director of the Youth Emergency Shelter. Shortly after Child reviewed a comic book designed to help children recognize and disclose child sexual abuse, Child told Mother, a long-time employee at the youth shelter, that Davis had touched her inappropriately. Neither Mother nor a counselor who evaluated Child believed Child was […]

Read More

Gambling Winnings and Losses as Income for Child Support in Tennessee: Vivien v. Campbell

Facts: Mother and Father had a child out of wedlock. Paternity was established, thereby requiring a determination of child support. The key issue was the determination of Father’s income, which was derived from several sources, including his minority interest in a trucking company and, according to Mother, his prolific gambling. At the hearing, Mother presented […]

Read More

Contempt and Change of Child Custody: In re Becka L.A.K.

Facts: Mother and Child relocated from Tennessee to New York State. Father’s court-ordered parenting time was to take place mostly during the summer and school holidays. After Father alleged Mother had thwarted his visitation on three occasions, Father filed a Petition for Contempt and to Change Custody. Father alleged Mother’s conduct amounted to a material […]

Read More

“Severe Child Abuse” in Tennessee Dependency and Neglect Matter: In re Samaria S.

Facts: Mother gave birth to premature twins. Before the hospital released the infants to Mother’s care, she was given extensive instructions on their feeding. Two weeks later, one twin was hospitalized, near death from severe malnutrition and dehydration. Days later, the other twin was hospitalized, also severely malnourished and dehydrated. The twins were taken into […]

Read More

Dependency and Neglect: In re Nirvanna S.

Facts: Mother and Father were parents to two girls, Dreama and Nirvanna (“Child”). Dreama died. A medical examination revealed old and new bruises on several areas of her body, torn rectal tissue, and multiple broken and fractured bones. The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) brought an action to remove Child from her parents’ custody […]

Read More

Change of Child Custody and Relocation: In re Faith F.

Facts: Juvenile Court awarded custody of child to Father and visitation to Mother. A year later, Father filed a petition to relocate to Memphis to accept a job offer with greater income. Mother opposed the relocation attempt and moved to modify the custody decision based on alleged instability in Father’s life, including “foreclosure on Father’s […]

Read More