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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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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Court Divided over Scope of Wanton Disregard as Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights: In re K.F.R.T.

Facts: Father’s children were adjudicated dependent and neglected and put in the custody of the Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) after Father committed domestic assault against Mother. DCS petitioned to terminate Father’s parental rights to the children on grounds of, inter alia, wanton disregard for the welfare of the children. Father was incarcerated at the […]

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Tennessee Supreme Court Divides 3-2 On “Effective” Court-Appointed Counsel in Termination of Parental Rights Cases: In re Carrington H., et al.

Facts: Mother’s parental rights to Child were terminated after a trial in which she was represented by court-appointed counsel. The trial court found three separate grounds for termination. Mother appealed the trial court’s termination of her parental rights. Mother’s court-appointed counsel sought appellate review of two of the three grounds for termination. The Court of […]

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Tennessee Supreme Court Creates Exceptions to Void Judgment in Adoption Dispute

Facts: The facts of this sad case are set forth in my blog post on the Court of Appeals’ opinion. Click HERE to see that post. I suggest you read that post before proceeding. On Appeal: The Tennessee Supreme Court reversed the courts below. Holding #1: The judgment terminating Mother’s parental rights is void. The record of the […]

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