Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Juvenile Law Attorneys

Juvenile Court/Juvenile Law

Juvenile court/juvenile law encompasses the following types of cases:

  • Paternity/legitimation actions
  • Custody/visitation rights of unmarried parents
  • Child support
  • Dependent and neglected children
  • Delinquent and unruly children (children charged with a crime)
  • Termination of parental rights
  • Grandparents’ rights
  • Fathers’ rights

Paternity/legitimation actions: Merely because a father’s name is on a birth certificate or he has signed a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity does NOT mean that he is legally recognized as the legal father of the child. In fact, for a father to have any legally recognizable rights (such as visitation or custody rights) to a child born outside of wedlock, an order of paternity has to be adopted by the court. The mother of the child can also file a paternity action. This is normally done when a mother is seeking child support from the father. If either the mother or the child is receiving assistance from the state of Tennessee, then the state may initiate paternity actions with or without the consent and approval of the mother to get an order of child support.

Contact our juvenile law attorneys for a FREE consultation to discuss any paternity issues you may have.

Custody/visitation rights of unmarried parents – In determining who shall have the primary custody of a child, the court considers many of the following factors: which parent has been the primary caregiver; child’s health; parents’ health; parents’ lifestyles; history of abuse; emotional bonds between child and parents; parent’s ability to provide; routines of the child; and child’s preference (if child is 12 years old or older).

Once a court determines which parent will be the primary caretaker of the child, the court then turns its focus to giving the other party appropriate visitation rights. These visitation rights can either come in the form of a court order or a parenting plan. A parenting plan is a detailed legal document that contains the custody and visitation schedule along with other rights and responsibilities for each parent, including child support, insurance obligations, tax exemptions, and medical expenses for the child.

Contact our juvenile law attorneys for a FREE consultation to discuss your rights.

Child support: Tennessee now uses the Income Shares Model of calculating child support, which is used in several other jurisdictions. The primary considerations for calculating child support are: each parent’s monthly gross income, number of days each parent has with the child (this number is normally contained within the parenting plan), and child care costs. Child support cannot be waived or modified without consent of the court.

In many cases, the first child support order issued by the court also includes an arrearage amount. The arrearage amount is determined by taking the child support amount ordered and multiplying it times the number of months the child has been alive. This amount will be awarded to the parent receiving child support as a judgment.

Contact our child support attorneys for a FREE consultation to discuss your child support issues.

Dependency and Neglect Proceedings: Any person, including the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS), who feels or has information that a child is being willfully neglected or abused by a parent or guardian can file a “dependent and neglect” petition. Many of these cases arise out of the following circumstances: one or both parents abuse drugs or alcohol, a parent has been absent for a long period of time, a parent is in jail, a parent does not have the financial ability to provide for the child’s necessities, child abuse, or unhealthy/inappropriate living conditions.

If the court determines that a child is dependent and neglected, the court has the power to award custody to a third-party or place the child in foster care. The court can also terminate parental rights.

We represent parents who are facing allegations of dependency and neglect. We also represent individuals, such as grandparents and other relatives, who believe that a child is dependent and neglected and wish to pursue legal action.

Contact our juvenile law attorneys for a FREE consultation to review your rights and options.

Delinquent and unruly children (children charged with a crime): When a person under the age of 18 years old is charged with a crime, Juvenile Court has jurisdiction. As in any other criminal charge, the State of Tennessee can seek incarceration, probation, house arrest, community service, fines and court costs as punishment for a minor committing a crime. We represent juveniles charged with all crimes.

Contact us for a FREE consultation.

Termination of Parental Rights: Juvenile Court has jurisdiction to terminate parental rights. The termination of parental rights routinely occurs in one of the following cases: dependency and neglect and/or adoption proceedings. Common grounds for termination of parental rights include child abuse and/or a parent’s failure to visit and failure to support a child for four months immediately preceding the filing of the petition to terminate parental rights.

We represent parents who are facing termination of their parental rights. We also represent individuals seeking termination of a parent’s rights for adoption purposes.

Contact our parental rights attorneys for a FREE consultation to discuss your case.

Grandparents’ Rights: Grandparents have limited rights in Tennessee. However, there are certain circumstances defined by state law where grandparents can assert visitation rights with a grandchild. We represent grandparents seeking visitation rights.

Contact us for a FREE consultation to determine your rights.

Fathers’ Rights: In Tennessee, both parents have equal rights. It is a common misconception that fathers have limited rights to their children. They have the exact same rights as mothers have to their children. The factors stated above in the custody/visitation rights section apply to both parties. Neither a child’s age nor gender are determining factors in making custody/visitation orders. Courts are most concerned with the best interests of the child. We represent both fathers and mothers in custody/visitation proceedings.

Contact us for a FREE consultation to protect your rights.

Tennessee Paternity Lawyers:  615-893-1331

The Murfreesboro, Tennessee, juvenile law attorneys at Kidwell, South, Beasley & Haley can represent you in all juvenile law matters.