You may then contact us at 615.530.5719 or contact us by any of the means listed on the Contact Us page once the immediate danger has passed.
Child Dependency, Neglect and Abuse
The courts work closely with the Tennessee Department of Children Services (DCS) to ensure children are safe in their homes, attend school and generally have the services they need to grow up to be responsible citizens. When this is not possible in their present living situation, children may be removed from their home or special services may be provided in the home in an effort to achieve the goals.
Although reuniting the family is always a goal, this is not always possible and the court will instruct DCS to find a permanent placement for children removed from the home. DCS has special authority to remove children if they feel the child is in danger, abused or neglected. This can happen without a court order and on the sole basis of the DCS case worker's limited investigation. If this occurs, a hearing will be held within a short period of time where DCS and the parents will have a chance to be heard before a Judge or magistrate. If it is found the child should not be returned to the home at that time, DCS will attempt to either place the child with a stable family member or within a foster home.
Once a child is removed from his or her home, this sets in motion a series of events. In the beginning, DCS will aim for reunification of the family but as time passes, if the family does not respond to the changes DCS has suggested, reunification with the family is replaced with the goal of finding a stable permanent placement outside the home. Parents have rights during this period which may include, but are not limited to, visitation, access to social services, vocational assistance and other services aimed at reunification.
The court will often appoint an attorney for the child and possibly a guardian ad litem to acts as a substitute for the parents. The case may also be referred to the CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) program. CASA is a group of highly trained individuals who have only the child's interest in mind. CASA will make a report and recommendation to the court after interviewing the child and the significant individuals in the child's life. Parent's need to take the role of the CASA worker very seriously as their findings are given significant weight by the court. There are many timelines, mostly based on federal mandates, under which the court and DCS must operate in providing for a permanent solution to that will meet the child's needs. Parents who feel they have been wrongly accused and are willing to do what it takes to prevent their children from being removed from their custody need to contact an attorney as early in the process as possible.
Tull & Marshall, An Association of Attorneys takes a special interest in children and juveniles who are facing the possibility of being placed in alternative types of care. We do not judge how the family situation got to this point but rather work toward the best outcome possible for the children and our clients. We will assist parents and other family members in ensuring their rights are being protected, the "system" is providing them with the services needed for reunification and that their children are being well cared for while outside the home. If you need assistance in this or any other area, please call us at 615.530.5719 or contact us by any of the means listed on the Contact Us page.