Juvenile courts in Tennessee have exclusive original jurisdiction to hear matters concerning the dependency and neglect of children. These can be brought by private parties, or by the State filing a petition. These are typically the result of an investigation by the Department of Children's Services ("DCS") upon a referall by private actors, medical institutions, or law enforcement. The recent case of In Re Antoine J., et al., highlights the issues involved when abuse or neglect is committed by the romantic partner of the parent.
Tennessee doesn't recognize what other states consider to be "common law marriages." Some states allow common law marriages to be formed when two individuals in a relationship cohabitate for a set period of time. This would then create a marital union to allow for support, alimony, and surviving spouse benefits upon death. A recent case has highlighted the issues that arise when individuals who were in such a recognized relationship in another state move to Tennessee.
The Tennessee Supreme Court recently entered a ruling that clarified what Judges must look at when a case is brought before them attempting to terminate the parental rights over a child. If you have a termination of rights case, or want to know more about your rights, please continue reading below.