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Dependency & Child Neglect Legal Services in Tennessee

If you have a Dependency & Neglect case, The Family Law Firm, PLLC offers their legal expertise to you. Our Tennessee-based law firm has helped numerous children find safe homes and better living situations.

Child Neglect: What is it and what do we do about it?

Child neglect is defined as any confirmed or suspected egregious act or omission by a parent or other caregiver that deprives a child of basic age-appropriate needs and thereby results, or has reasonable potential to result, in physical or psychological harm. Younger children are neglected most, and more girls suffer from neglect than boys.

Child neglect includes:

  1. Abandonment
  2. Lack of appropriate supervision
  3. Failure to attend to necessary emotional or psychological needs
  4. Failure to provide necessary education, medical care, nourishment, shelter, and/or clothing.

Neglect is commonly identified by individuals in close contact with a child, such as a school teacher, athletics coach, tutor, nurse, another parent, or even the child’s friends.

Child neglect can have life-long consequences, including:

  • Delayed Development
  • Behavioral Disorders
  • Mental Disorders

All children require sufficient attention and care, as mandated by law. Failure to provide a sufficient level of care, whether you are a parent, or a caregiver, can result in very serious legal consequences.

If a child is being neglected

Consider Calling The Family Law Firm

Important Factors in Child Neglect and Dependency Issues

Symptoms of Child Neglect

Consequences of Child Neglect or Abuse

The Family Law Firm’s Process For Handling Child Neglect & Dependency Issues

Experienced Family Lawyers in Tennessee

Do you want to lose custody of your child for the rest of your life? How would you feel if your child was taken away from you and forced to live in a foster home? That is what’s at stake in a child dependency case in Tennessee. If you are involved in a child dependency case and you are not prepared to handle it the right way, you could lose your child forever. That is why you should seek the help of an experienced child dependency lawyer immediately.

In Tennessee, the child dependency court exists to protect children from abuse or neglect in their homes. If you suspect that a child is being abused or neglected by their caregiver, and would like to seek guardianship of the minor child involved, you should seek the help of an experienced child dependency and neglect lawyer to ensure that the child is removed from the toxic environment and is not placed in a foster home. It would be beneficial for you to hire an attorney as the parents of the child will receive a court-appointed attorney at their first court date to represent their interests.

How does a child dependency case start?

The process begins when a parent is accused of abusing or neglecting a child. Typically, this happens after someone suspects abuse or neglect and reports the abuse to the Department of Children Services or file a petition with the court as a private party.

After a parent has been reported to the Department of Children Services, an investigation by Social Services will begin. An emergency response worker from Social Services will go to the parent’s home to determine whether the child is living in an unsafe environment. If it is determined that the child is not safe with the parent, your child will be removed from the parent’s custody immediately. If Social Services does not determine that there is an immediate need for removal but believes that a petition should be filed with the court, the court process will move forward similar to a private party’s petition

The Preliminary Hearing

This is typically the first court date after the petition is filed. At this hearing, the court will determine who the child will live with until the trial. At this court date, the court will also appoint an attorney to represent the parent involved in the case and a Guardian Ad Litem to act in the best interests of the child.

The Adjudicatory Hearing

At the trial, the Judge will decide if your child has been abused or neglected. The petitioner must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the allegations which were alleged in the petition are true. After the Judge listens to both sides, the Judge will then determine whether the child is dependent and neglected.

The Dispositional Hearing

At the disposition hearing, the court will review all of the evidence related to your case and make a plan regarding the custody of your child. This is called the permanency plan.

After the court reviews the evidence, the judge can decide to:

  • Release the child to your custody with the requirement that a social worker monitor and supervise you and your child going forward
  • Order that the child stays with a relative or close friend
  • Order that the child stays in a foster home
  • Order that you participate in counseling or parenting programs (this may also be part of the reunification plan)
  • Make decisions as to when you are allowed to visit your child

There are many different options the court has when it comes to your visitation rights with your child. The court will lay out specific programs and requirements that you must complete to be reunited with your child in the reunification plan.

The goal of the reunification plan is to protect your child and help you correct the behavior that led to the child dependency case.

What you need to know

If your child, or a child you know is undergoing what you suspect might be neglect, you must quickly retain legal support. The Family Law Firm can help that child and recommends strongly that you schedule a consultation.

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