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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    3

    Unhappy Terminating Fathers Rights For Abandonment

    I live in TN and I am having an issue with one of my childs bio father. My child is 5 yrs old and when he was born the bio father and i had split up my whole pregnancy.we got back together for about 3 months after the birth then just didnt get along.He has not seen him since.He has moved to knoxville or Nashville and has never made any attempt to see, call, or help with his son.I have never collected child support so that if and when the time came up he would just sign his rights instead of pay back pay.It may sound selfish but if he loved his child he would owe 5 yrs back support.Anyways the da office is going after him cause I collected afdc for a few months when I was without a job claiming everyone in the house so it counted for my son. Now the bio father is stating he wants a paternity test then go from there.He is on the birth certificate, but my question is...Can I not take him to court for abandonment for the last 5 yrs and get his rights teminated? I am married and my husband is wanting to adopt him so can anyone give advice from knowledge or experience?I am setting up an appointment to talk to an attorney just wanted to maybe hear what step I could take next.any advice will be helpful.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    2,772

    Default Re: Terminating Fathers Rights For Abandonment?

    Quote Quoting uttms1
    View Post
    I live in TN and I am having an issue with one of my childs bio father. My child is 5 yrs old and when he was born the bio father and i had split up my whole pregnancy.we got back together for about 3 months after the birth then just didnt get along.He has not seen him since.He has moved to knoxville or Nashville and has never made any attempt to see, call, or help with his son.I have never collected child support so that if and when the time came up he would just sign his rights instead of pay back pay.It may sound selfish but if he loved his child he would owe 5 yrs back support.Anyways the da office is going after him cause I collected afdc for a few months when I was without a job claiming everyone in the house so it counted for my son. Now the bio father is stating he wants a paternity test then go from there.He is on the birth certificate, but my question is...Can I not take him to court for abandonment for the last 5 yrs and get his rights teminated? I am married and my husband is wanting to adopt him so can anyone give advice from knowledge or experience?I am setting up an appointment to talk to an attorney just wanted to maybe hear what step I could take next.any advice will be helpful.
    Abandonment is not an option. Since he is not yet the LEGAL father, he does not have a child to abandon.

    If the DNA test proves that he is the father, he will definately be ordered to pay the state back for the assitance you recieved. However, as long as you are no longer recieving assistance you can try asking him to voluntarily relinquish his rights and allow your husband to adopt. It will help if you let him know that he will never have to pay any CS beyond what is owed to the state, sometimes that will be enough to convince a father to allow an adoption.

    I'm glad that you are seeing an attorney, that is the best step you can take.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Behind a Desk
    Posts
    73,168

    Default Re: Terminating Fathers Rights For Abandonment?

    Dad's on the birth certificate, so paternity is established. But Tennessee permits termination of parental rights in adoption proceedings even if the putative father has never established his paternity.
    Quote Quoting Tennessee Code, Sec 36-1-113. Termination of parental rights.
    (a) The chancery and circuit courts shall have concurrent jurisdiction with the juvenile court to terminate parental or guardianship rights to a child in a separate proceeding, or as a part of the adoption proceeding by utilizing any grounds for termination of parental or guardianship rights permitted in this part or in title 37, chapter 1, part 1 and title 37, chapter 2, part 4.

    (b) The prospective adoptive parent or parents, including extended family members caring for a related child, any licensed child-placing agency having custody of the child, the child's guardian ad litem, or the department shall have standing to file a petition pursuant to this part or title 37 to terminate parental or guardianship rights of a person alleged to be a parent or guardian of the child. The prospective adoptive parents, including extended family members caring for a related child, shall have standing to request termination of parental or guardianship rights in the adoption petition filed by them pursuant to this part.

    (c) Termination of parental or guardianship rights must be based upon:
    (1) A finding by the 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.
    (d)
    (1) The petition, or allegations in the adoption petition, to terminate parental rights may be made upon information and belief and shall be verified. If a parent whose parental rights are proposed for termination is the legal parent of the child, as defined in 36-1-102(28), and if such parent is alleged to be deceased, then diligent efforts must be made by the petitioner to verify the death of such parent.

    (2) The petition, or allegations in the adoption petition, shall state:
    (A) The child's birth name;

    (B) The child's age or date of birth;

    (C) The child's current residence address or county of residence or that the child is in the custody of the department or a licensed child-placing agency; and

    (D) Any other facts that allege the basis for termination of parental rights and that bring the child and parties within the jurisdiction of the court.
    (3)
    (A) The petition, or allegations in the adoption petition, shall contain a verified statement that:
    (i) The putative father registry maintained by the department has been consulted within ten (10) working days of the filing of the petition and shall state whether there exists any claim on the registry to the paternity of the child who is the subject of the termination or adoption petition;

    (ii) Indicates if there exists any other claim or potential claim to the paternity of the child; and

    (iii) Describes whether any other parental or guardianship rights have been terminated by surrender, parental consent, or otherwise, and whether any other such rights must be terminated before the child can be made available for adoption.
    (B) Any person or persons entitled to notice pursuant to the provisions of 36-1-117 shall be named as defendants in the petition to terminate parental rights or in the adoption petition and shall be served with a copy of the petition as provided by law.

    (C) The petition to terminate, or the adoption petition that seeks to terminate parental rights, shall state that:

    (i) The petition or request for termination in the adoption petition shall have the effect of forever severing all of the rights, responsibilities, and obligations of the parent(s) or guardian(s) to the child who is the subject of the order, and of the child to those parent(s) or guardian(s);

    (ii) The child will be placed in the guardianship of other person, persons or public or private agencies who, or that, as the case may be, shall have the right to adopt the child, or to place the child for adoption and to consent to the child's adoption; and

    (iii) The parent or guardian shall have no further right to notice of proceedings for the adoption of the child by other persons and that the parent or guardian shall have no right to object to the child's adoption or thereafter, at any time, to have any relationship, legal or otherwise, with the child.
    (4) The petition, if filed separately from the adoption petition, may be filed:
    (A) In the court of the county where the child currently resides in the physical custody of the petitioner or petitioners;

    (B) In the court that has jurisdiction to adjudicate a termination of parental rights and that had awarded the custody of the child to the petitioner or petitioners under a prior order by which the petitioner or petitioners currently hold legal custody or complete or partial guardianship; or

    (C) In any court in the county where the child currently resides or that has jurisdiction to adjudicate a termination of parental rights if the petitioner(s) currently has legal custody or complete or partial guardianship of the child under a prior court order or statutory authorization.
    (e) Service of process of the petition shall be made as provided in 36-1-117.

    (f) Before terminating the rights of any parent or guardian who is incarcerated or who was incarcerated at the time of an action or proceeding is initiated, it must be affirmatively shown to the court that such incarcerated parent or guardian received actual notice of the following:
    (1) The time and place of the hearing to terminate parental rights;

    (2) That the hearing will determine whether the rights of the incarcerated parent or guardian should be terminated;

    (3) That the incarcerated parent or guardian has the right to participate in the hearing and contest the allegation that the rights of the incarcerated parent or guardian should be terminated, and, at the discretion of the court, such participation may be achieved through personal appearance, teleconference, telecommunication or other means deemed by the court to be appropriate under the circumstances;

    (4) That if the incarcerated parent or guardian wishes to participate in the hearing and contest the allegation, such parent or guardian:
    (A) If indigent, will be provided with a court-appointed attorney to assist the parent or guardian in contesting the allegation; and

    (B) Shall have the right to perpetuate such person's testimony or that of any witness by means of depositions or interrogatories as provided by the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure; and
    (5) If, by means of a signed waiver, the court determines that the incarcerated parent or guardian has voluntarily waived the right to participate in the hearing and contest the allegation, or if such parent or guardian takes no action after receiving notice of such rights, the court may proceed with such action without the parent's or guardian's participation.
    (g) Initiation of termination of parental or guardianship rights may be based upon any of the following grounds:
    (1) Abandonment by the parent or guardian, as defined in 36-1-102, has occurred;

    (2) There has been substantial noncompliance by the parent or guardian with the statement of responsibilities in a permanency plan or a plan of care pursuant to the provisions of title 37, chapter 2, part 4;

    (3) The child has been removed from the home of the parent or guardian by order of a court for a period of six (6) months and:
    (A) The conditions that led to the child's removal or other conditions that in all reasonable probability would cause the child to be subjected to further abuse or neglect and that, therefore, prevent the child's safe return to the care of the parent(s) or guardian(s), still persist;

    (B) There is little likelihood that these conditions will be remedied at an early date so that the child can be safely returned to the parent(s) or guardian(s) in the near future; and

    (C) The continuation of the parent or guardian and child relationship greatly diminishes the child's chances of early integration into a safe, stable and permanent home;
    (4) The parent or guardian has been found to have committed severe child abuse as defined in 37-1-102, under any prior order of a court or is found by the court hearing the petition to terminate parental rights or the petition for adoption to have committed severe child abuse against the child who is the subject of the petition or against any sibling or half-sibling of such child, or any other child residing temporarily or permanently in the home of such parent or guardian;

    (5) The parent or guardian has been sentenced to more than two (2) years' imprisonment for conduct against the child who is the subject of the petition, or for conduct against any sibling or half-sibling of the child or any other child residing temporarily or permanently in the home of such parent or guardian, that has been found under any prior order of a court or that is found by the court hearing the petition to be severe child abuse, as defined in 37-1-102(b)(21). Unless otherwise stated, for purposes of this subdivision (g)(5), “sentenced” shall not be construed to mean that the parent or guardian must have actually served more than two (2) years in confinement, but shall only be construed to mean that the court had imposed a sentence of two (2) or more years upon the parent or guardian;

    (6) The parent has been confined in a correctional or detention facility of any type, by order of the court as a result of a criminal act, under a sentence of ten (10) or more years, and the child is under eight (8) years of age at the time the sentence is entered by the court;

    (7) The parent has been convicted of or found civilly liable for the intentional and wrongful death of the child's other parent or legal guardian;

    (8)
    (A) The chancery and circuit courts shall have jurisdiction in an adoption proceeding, and the chancery, circuit, and juvenile courts shall have jurisdiction in a separate, independent proceeding conducted prior to an adoption proceeding to determine if the parent or guardian is mentally incompetent to provide for the further care and supervision of the child, and to terminate that parent's or guardian's rights to the child;

    (B) The court may terminate the parental or guardianship rights of that person if it determines on the basis of clear and convincing evidence that:

    (i) The parent or guardian of the child is incompetent to adequately provide for the further care and supervision of the child because the parent's or guardian's mental condition is presently so impaired and is so likely to remain so that it is unlikely that the parent or guardian will be able to assume or resume the care of and responsibility for the child in the near future, and

    (ii) That termination of parental or guardian rights is in the best interest of the child;
    (C) In the circumstances described under subdivisions (8)(A) and (8)(B), no willfulness in the failure of the parent or guardian to establish the parent's or guardian's ability to care for the child need be shown to establish that the parental or guardianship rights should be terminated; and
    (9)
    (A) The parental rights of any person who, at the time of the filing of a petition to terminate the parental rights of such person or, if no such petition is filed, at the time of the filing of a petition to adopt a child, is not the legal parent or guardian of such child or who is described in 36-1-117(b) or (c) may also be terminated based upon any one (1) or more of the following additional grounds:

    (i) The person has failed, without good cause or excuse, to pay a reasonable share of prenatal, natal, and postnatal expenses involving the birth of the child in accordance with the person's financial means promptly upon the person's receipt of notice of the child's impending birth;

    (ii) The person has failed, without good cause or excuse, to make reasonable and consistent payments for the support of the child in accordance with the child support guidelines promulgated by the department pursuant to 36-5-101;

    (iii) The person has failed to seek reasonable visitation with the child, and if visitation has been granted, has failed to visit altogether, or has engaged in only token visitation, as defined in 36-1-102(1)(C);

    (iv) The person has failed to manifest an ability and willingness to assume legal and physical custody of the child;

    (v) Placing custody of the child in the person's legal and physical custody would pose a risk of substantial harm to the physical or psychological welfare of the child; or

    (vi) The person has failed to file a petition to establish paternity of the child within thirty (30) days after notice of alleged paternity by the child's mother, or as required in 36-2-318(j), or after making a claim of paternity pursuant to 36-1-117(c)(3);
    * * *
    Quote Quoting Tennessee Code Sec. 36-1-102. Part definitions.
    As used in this part, unless the context otherwise requires:

    (1)
    (A) For purposes of terminating the parental or guardian rights of parent(s) or guardian(s) of a child to that child in order to make that child available for adoption, “abandonment” means that:
    (i) For a period of four (4) consecutive months immediately preceding the filing of a proceeding or pleading to terminate the parental rights of the parent(s) or guardian(s) of the child who is the subject of the petition for termination of parental rights or adoption, that the parent(s) or guardian(s) either have willfully failed to visit or have willfully failed to support or have willfully failed to make reasonable payments toward the support of the child;

    (ii) The child has been removed from the home of the parent(s) or guardian(s) as the result of a petition filed in the juvenile court in which the child was found to be a dependent and neglected child, as defined in 37-1-102, and the child was placed in the custody of the department or a licensed child-placing agency, that the juvenile court found, or the court where the termination of parental rights petition is filed finds, that the department or a licensed child-placing agency made reasonable efforts to prevent removal of the child or that the circumstances of the child's situation prevented reasonable efforts from being made prior to the child's removal; and for a period of four (4) months following the removal, the department or agency has made reasonable efforts to assist the parent(s) or guardian(s) to establish a suitable home for the child, but that the parent(s) or guardian(s) have made no reasonable efforts to provide a suitable home and have demonstrated a lack of concern for the child to such a degree that it appears unlikely that they will be able to provide a suitable home for the child at an early date;

    (iii) A biological or legal father has either willfully failed to visit or willfully failed to make reasonable payments toward the support of the child's mother during the four (4) months immediately preceding the birth of the child; provided, that in no instance shall a final order terminating the parental rights of a parent as determined pursuant to this subdivision (iii) be entered until at least thirty (30) days have elapsed since the date of the child's birth;

    (iv) A parent or guardian is incarcerated at the time of the institution of an action or proceeding to declare a child to be an abandoned child, or the parent or guardian has been incarcerated during all or part of the four (4) months immediately preceding the institution of such action or proceeding, and either has willfully failed to visit or has willfully failed to support or has willfully failed to make reasonable payments toward the support of the child for four (4) consecutive months immediately preceding such parent's or guardian's incarceration, or the parent or guardian has engaged in conduct prior to incarceration that exhibits a wanton disregard for the welfare of the child; or

    (v) The child, as a newborn infant aged seventy-two (72) hours or less, was voluntarily left at a facility by such infant's mother pursuant to 68-11-255; and, for a period of thirty (30) days after the date of voluntary delivery, the mother failed to visit or seek contact with the infant; and, for a period of thirty (30) days after notice was given under 36-1-142(e), and no less than ninety (90) days cumulatively, the mother failed to seek contact with the infant through the department or to revoke her voluntary delivery of the infant;
    * * *

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