TN Supreme Court Clarifies the Nine Statutory Factors.
This past month, in In re Gabriella D., et al, the Tennessee Supreme Court rendered a decision that reclarifies the statutory requirements for whether there are sufficient grounds to terminate the parental rights of a father or mother. The Supreme Court reclarified that to terminate a parental right to a child, the court must find 1. at least one statutory ground for termination T.C.A §36-1-113(g) and that 2. termination must be in the best interest of the child pursuant to T.C.A §36-1-113(i).
In Tennessee, the right to care and have custody of one’s child is one of the oldest, most fundamental rights a person can have that is protected by the Due Process Clause in both the federal and state constitution. In re Carrington H 483 S.W.3rd 521 (Tenn.) However, pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated 36-1-113, any prospective parent, including: • extended family members • a child placing agency having physical custody • the child’s guardian ad litem • or the proper department having standing • may bring a petition to terminate the parental right of the parents. Although, to succeed, certain due process and statutory factors must be determined by clear and convincing evidence.
Parental Rights – How can they be terminated?
To terminate a parental or guardianship rights, it must be based upon 1. a finding by the trial court by clear and convincing evidence that the grounds for termination of parental or guardianship rights have been established; and 2. that termination of the parent’s or guardian’s rights is in the best interests of the child. (T.C.A. § 36-1-113(c))
The Supreme Court in Gabriella D. clarified that a court must first determine whether there is at least one statutory ground for termination pursuant to T.C.A §36-1-113(g). When at least one statutory fact has been established, the court must then determine whether termination is in the best interest of the child. In considering whether termination is in the child’s best interest, the Court must consider nine statutory factors pursuant to T.C.A §36-1-113(i).
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