Browse Previous Page | Table of Contents | Browse Next Page

TENNESSEE COMPILATION OF SELECTED LAWS ON CHILDREN, YOUTH AND FAMILIES, 2011 EDITION

TENNESSEE CODE ANNOTATED

Title 37 Juveniles

Chapter 2 Placement of Juveniles

Part 4 Foster Care

37-2-402. Part definitions.

As used in this part, unless the context otherwise requires:

(1) (A) “Abandonment” means, 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, 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 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 found, 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. The efforts of the department or agency to assist a parent or guardian in establishing a suitable home for the child may be found to be reasonable if such efforts exceed the efforts of the parent or guardian toward the same goal, when the parent or guardian is aware that the child is in the custody of the department;

(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 (1)(A)(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 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;

(B) For purposes of this subdivision (1), “token support” means that the support, under the circumstances of the individual case, is insignificant given the parent's means;

(C) For purposes of this subdivision (1), “token visitation” means that the visitation, under the circumstances of the individual case, constitutes nothing more than perfunctory visitation or visitation of such an infrequent nature or of such short duration as to merely establish minimal or insubstantial contact with the child;

(D) For purposes of this subdivision (1), “willfully failed to support” or “willfully failed to make reasonable payments toward such child's support” means that, for a period of four (4) consecutive months, no monetary support was paid or that the amount of support paid is token support;

(E) For purposes of this subdivision (1), “willfully failed to visit” means the willful failure, for a period of four (4) consecutive months, to visit or engage in more than token visitation;

(F) Abandonment may not be repented of by resuming visitation or support subsequent to the filing of any petition seeking to terminate parental or guardianship rights or seeking the adoption of a child; and

(G) “Abandonment” and “abandonment of infant” do not have any other definition except that which is set forth herein, it being the intent of the general assembly to establish the only grounds for abandonment by statutory definition. Specifically, it shall not be required that a parent be shown to have evinced a settled purpose to forego all parental rights and responsibilities in order for a determination of abandonment to be made. Decisions of any court to the contrary are hereby legislatively overruled;

(2) “Abandonment of an infant” means, for purposes of terminating parental or guardian rights, “abandonment” of a child under one (1) year of age;

(3) “Agency” means a child care agency, as defined in title 71, chapter 3, part 5, or in chapter 5, part 5 of this title, regardless of whether such agency is licensed or approved, and includes the department of children's services;

(4) “Board” means an advisory review board appointed by a juvenile court judge, juvenile court judges, or the department of children's services as provided in this part;

(5) “Court” means the juvenile court having jurisdiction over the person of the child, or, if no juvenile court has jurisdiction over the child, then the juvenile court in the county in which the child resides;

(6) “Date of foster care placement” means the original date on which the child is physically placed in foster care;

(7) “Judge” means a juvenile judge or the judge having jurisdiction over the person of the child;

(8) “Parent” means the natural parent or legal guardian, except in cases when guardianship is held by an agency pursuant to a determination of abandonment or surrender of parental rights;

(9) “Plan” or “permanency plan” means a written plan for a child placed in foster care with the department of children's services or in the care of an agency as defined in subdivision (3) and as provided in § 37-2-403; and

(10) “Report” means a written report by an advisory review board as provided in § 37-2-406 or by the department of children's services or by an agency having custody of a child as provided in § 37-2-404.

Acts 1976, ch. 731, § 1; 1982, ch. 811, § 1; 1983, ch. 438, §§ 1-6; T.C.A., § 37-1501(b); Acts 1996, ch. 1079, §§ 73, 112; 1997, ch. 253, § 1; 1998, ch. 1097, §§ 13, 14; 2000, ch. 981, §§ 51, 57; 2001, ch. 388, § 5; 2009, ch. 411, § 9; 2010, ch. 842, § 3; 2010, ch. 887, § 1.

Compiler's Notes. Acts 2009, ch. 411, § 12 provided that the act, which amended §§ 36-1-102, 36-1-108, 37-1-102, 37-2-402 and added new § 37-1-183, shall apply to conduct covered by the provisions of the act that occurs on or after July 1, 2009. The eighteen (18) month time period set out in § 37-1-102(b)(12)(J) shall not commence until July 1, 2009.

Browse Previous Page | Table of Contents | Browse Next Page