What are grounds for termination of parental rights in TN?

The Tennessee courts, like most other courts throughout the nation, strive to establish custody arrangements that are in the best interests of the child. In most situations, it is in a child’s best interests to spend equal time with both parents. Unfortunately, however, there are certain situations in which being with a parent is not only not in the child’s best interests but also, in which it is dangerous for the child. In these circumstances, the courts may decide to terminate a parent’s rights entirely.

The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services details what constitutes as grounds for the termination of parental rights. Some are more obvious, such as severe child abuse, while others might shock you, such as the failure to pay child support for several consecutive months.

Among the first reasons, the document lists as grounds for termination of parental rights include the willful failure to pay child support for four consecutive months. For this to be a valid reason, the petitioning parent must establish that the obligor has the funds to pay. Willfully failing to visit your child regularly for four consecutive months is also grounds for termination, as is the failure to complete tasks that your permanency plan requires of you.

You may surrender your parental rights by voluntarily appearing before a judge and signing a voluntary surrender form. The courts may terminate your parental rights against your will if clear and convincing evidence establishes a legal basis for termination. Some legal grounds for termination include abandonment of your child, a wanton disregard for your child’s welfare, failure to provide a suitable home for your child or substantial non-compliance with the permanency plan. Severe child abuse, a 10-year prison sentence, liability for the death of the other parent, mental incompetence, child sexual abuse, a sex trafficking conviction or failure to assume financial or custodial responsibility for your child can also result in the termination of your parental rights.

This article is not meant to serve as legal advice. It is for educational purposes only.