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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More Termination of Parental Rights Cases Dismissed on New Procedural Quirk, but Now There Are Dissents: In re Jayden R.

As I wrote about a few weeks ago, the legislature enacted a statute last year that requires parents appealing the termination of their parental rights to personally sign the notice of appeal, instead of the customary practice of the attorney signing the notice of appeal. Because of this new procedural requirement, appeals in termination of […]

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New Procedural Requirement Results in Dismissal of Termination of Parental Rights Appeal in Memphis, Tennessee: In re Catherine J.

Facts: Child was removed from the parents’ custody and determined to be dependent and neglected. Five months later, the Department of Children’s Services (DCS) petitioned to terminate Father’s parental rights. After a trial, the trial court entered a judgment terminating Father’s parental rights to Child. Father filed a notice of appeal. Notably, Father did not […]

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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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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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Failure to Pay Child Support Not Willful in Waverly, TN Termination of Parental Rights Case: In re Michael B.

Facts: Father and Stepmother petitioned to terminate Mother’s parental rights to Child so Stepmother could adopt Child. The proof showed Mother was a heroin addict. She earned money through prostitution to support her drug habit. During the four months preceding Mother’s incarceration, the trial court found Mother earned income from prostitution and used that income […]

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Fetus Is a Child for Purposes of Terminating Parental Rights in Manchester, TN: In re Adrianna S.

Facts: Mother and Father are the parents of Child. At the time of Child’s birth, Father was incarcerated serving an effective 19-year prison sentence, although he will be eligible for parole in 2017. Child was removed from Mother’s care because of her substance abuse, mental health problems, and reports of neglect. The Department of Children’s […]

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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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