When parents become addicted to drugs often the Department of Children’s Services (DCS), files a lawsuit asking the Court to declare a child or children as being dependent and neglected as defined by T.C.A. § 37-1-102(b)(12), and that the child be safety placed appropriately.
As grandparents of a child, without a legal guardianship over the child, you have neither parental rights nor legal custodial rights. Additionally, as non-parties to a juvenile dependency and neglect case, DCS is prohibited from giving you specific information pertaining to the case. Most importantly, should DCS file a subsequent petition to terminate the parent’s rights, you as the children’s grandparents, will be barred from intervening in the action, unless you have already been designated as the legal guardian or custodian of the child. This means that the rights of the grandparents as well as those of the parents will be terminated in the parental termination proceeding. If your grandchildren are the subject of a dependency and neglect action, you must IMMEDIATELY file to become the legal guardian of the child or children concerned. This will allow you to intervene in the action filed by DCS and will prevent DCS from moving for termination in the first place.
In Re: C.H. is a case involving an interlocutory appeal from the Juvenile Court of Jefferson County, which was heard by the Tennessee Court of Appeals at Knoxville, filed January 31, 2017. The Court of Appeals ruled in that case, that the grandparents of the subject child were barred from intervening in a lawsuit to terminate the rights of the child’s parents filed by DCS, because the grandparents were not the legal guardians of the child and that their interests were adequately represented by that of the parents.
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