Dependent Neglect Proceedings in Tennessee
Brighter DaySM Law’s Legal Team Handles Dependent and Neglect Cases in Cheatham County, Davidson County, Montgomery County, Sumner County, Robertson County, Williamson County, Wilson County, and Throughout Middle Tennessee
In Tennessee, the Department of Children’s Services and private parties such as relatives, teachers, or even neighbors and family friends can file a petition in the Juvenile Court on behalf of children who are alleged to be dependent and neglected. The juvenile court will have jurisdiction in these proceedings and it is specifically designed to safeguard the physical and emotional well-being of children. For assistance with such cases or if you or a loved one know of a dependent child suffering from abuse or neglect, contact Brighter DaySM Law to schedule a case evaluation today.
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Understanding the Laws that Apply to Dependent and Neglected Cases in Tennessee
In Tennessee, a dependent and neglected child is defined as follows:
- He or she is without a parent, guardian, or legal custodian;
- He or she has a parent, guardian, or someone they live with but that individual is not fit for caring for and fulfilling the needs of the child, whether due to cruelty, mental incapacity, or depravity;
- He or she is unlawfully kept out of school;
- He or she is under the unlawful or improper care, supervision, custody, or restraint by a person or institution of any kind;
- He or she is under the care of an individual, whether a parent, guardian, or custodian who refuses or neglects to provide the child with the medical care they require;
- His or her health and/or morals are in danger of harm due to inappropriate or improper guardianship or a lack of supervision;
- He or she suffers from outright abuse and/or neglect or is allowed, encouraged, or permitted to participate or engage in acts such as prostitution or pornography;
- He or she has been left in the sole physical and financial care of a related person for eighteen months or more and it would be contrary to the child’s best interest to remove the child from the relative’s care.
Juvenile Court Proceedings for a Dependent and Neglected Child
If someone you know is a minor dependent and is suffering from abuse or neglect, you can petition the juvenile court to have that child removed from the custody of the parent or caregiver.The burden of proof will rest on you and you must provide clear and convincing evidence that the child in question is in danger. Similarly, if you find yourself in a position of having to defend yourself against allegations that you have harmed your child or a child in your care, you will need a strong legal advocate to defend you and your right to parent.
The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services is legally mandated to investigate all allegations of abuse and neglect. A finding by a juvenile court that a child is suffering from abuse and neglect will often result in that child being removed from the custody and care of his or her biological parents. The child may be placed in the legal custody of the State of Tennessee in foster care or an approved private party. The removal can be temporary or permanent. It is important to have competent legal representation for whichever side of this type of case you find yourself.
Contact Brighter Day
Parents have a protected constitutional liberty interest in the care and custody of their children. However, that right is not absolute. The State has an interest in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of its minor citizens. It is not uncommon for parents to be wrongfully accused. And, it is also not uncommon for children to slip through the cracks because people don’t know what to do to help a child in a dangerous situation. Dependency and neglect cases can be traumatizing on all parties as well as physically and emotionally draining. For experienced professional legal assistance, contact us today to schedule a case evaluation.