Q:

What are the child abandonment laws in Tennessee?

A:

Tennessee law defines abandonment as a parent's deliberate failure to visit or provide financial support for his child for a period of four successive months. Even if such grounds are proven, the court must still determine whether termination of parental rights is in the best interest of the child, notes the Law Office of Paula Ogle Blair.

Terminating parental rights due to abandonment is a significant decision. Therefore, a high standard of evidence is required before such a relationship can be ended permanently. To establish such "clear and compelling evidence," Tennessee attorney Laura B. Baker notes that those making such a claim must prove the parent made no attempt to visit or support the child even though the parent was able to do so and had no defensible reason for not doing so, according to the Law Offices of John Day.

According to Tennessee state law, other grounds for abandonment include the parent being incarcerated for up to four months prior to the action declaring the child to be abandoned or the parent being involved in activities before incarceration that pose a threat to the child's welfare. Newborns under 72 hours of age left at a hospital or similar facility with no contact from the mother for a period of 90 days are also considered abandoned, explains the Law Office of Paula Ogle Blair.

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