Tennessee Adoption Law Changes
Starting July, 2018, Tennessee Adoption Law changed in significant ways. Some of these changes favor adopting parents, while others favor the natural parents. Consult with a family law adoption attorney about how these changes may affect you.
Certainly the most significant change in Tennessee adoption Law is the definition of abandonment. Most private party adoptions focus on the legal ground of abandonment of the child by one or both natural parents. While current law requires the adopting parents to prove that the failure to visit or the failure to support is “willful”. This must be shown by clear and convincing evidence which is just barely below “beyond a reasonable doubt”. In contrast, the new law changes this standard.
Adopting Parent’s Burden of Proof Lowered
The adopting parent no longer bears the burden of proof of willfulness. As a result, the adopting parent’s burden of proof is lowered under the new Tennessee Adoption Law. In other words the adopting parent must only show by clear and convincing evidence that the parent failed to visit or failed to support the child during the relevant period of time. Rather, the defending parent bears the burden to prove that the failure was not willful.
New Adoption Law Protection for Putative Fathers
Another important change in the Tennessee adoption law is the requirement to search the putative father registry in the state in which the child was born. Also in the state in which the child was conceived. While the current law requires only the Tennessee registry to be searched. This change adds even more protection to the rights of a father who is not otherwise identified.
Other Significant Changes in Tennessee Adoptions
There are other significant changes in the adoption law. Such as increased ability for non-residents to file adoption petitions in Tennessee. Also, there are several changes in the voluntary surrender process. Yet another change is related to a child who is removed from a parent by a Juvenile court under allegations of dependency and neglect. The new law provides a less stringent means to terminate Parental Rights in such an event.
Best Interest of Child Remains Unchanged
Although the new Tennessee adoption law changes the grounds for termination of parental rights, the best interest standard remains unchanged. In other words the adoption process continues to be the same after establishment of legal grounds. An adoptive parent must still show by clear and convincing evidence that a legal ground, like abandonment, exists then prove by clear and convincing evidence that termination is in the best interest of the minor child.
A Family Law Adoption Attorney Will Explain the New Laws to you.
As with any legal issue, adoption is is complicated. Likewise, the new Tennessee adoption law is very complex. Be sure to consult with a family law adoption attorney about the process of adopting a child.