Thank you for allowing me to research this question. First, please be
advised that I am not a lawyer and cannot give you legal advice;
however, if you are in need of legal counsel, I would suggest you
contact a qualified family lawyer in your area for a free
consultation. With that said, I have found some information for you
on how you can go about obtaining legal custody of your grandchild.
If you granddaughter's parents are not contesting the custody and they
give you consent, contact the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court in
the city, county or state where your granddaughter lives (NOT the city
county or state in which you live) and fill out a "Uniform Child
Custody Form". Be sure to bring your granddaughter's birth
certificate and Social Security Card with you when filing the form.
After this has been completed, the forms will be forwarded to a judge
who will then approve the form. After the form has been approved the
judge will sign a court order granting custody of the child to you.
If you are requesting custody of your granddaughter without her
parent's consent, you must go to the Juvenile Domestic Relations Court
in the location where your granddaughter lives and apply for custody.
Once all of the necessary forms are complete, a date will be set for
the court to hear your case. During the hearing, you will not need a
lawyer to obtain custody UNLESS either of her parents objects to your
getting custody of the child. If this happens, a lawyer may be able to
help you to obtain custody despite the parent's objections. If you
cannot afford a lawyer, call your local legal aid office to see if
they can assist you.
Though it is usually in the best interest for the child to live with
his or her parents, the judge is the only one who can make the final
decision. The judge often looks at what living situation would be best
to meet the child's physical, emotional, educational, and moral needs.
If your granddaughter is threatening suicide because of her living
arrangements, be sure to bring this to the judges? attention. Since
your granddaughter is mature enough to engage in intelligent
conversation with an adult, have her speak with the judge on her
living preference. However, be advised that just because she wants to
live with you does not mean the judge will allow it. There has to be
very good reasoning behind the request. While the following questions
are not in direct relation to your situation, I believe the answers
will give you additional information to work with
"Q: I have filed a pro se motion in the state of NJ to obtain custody
of my daughters. I currently live in GA. I know this is an uphill
battle, but I cannot afford to hire a lawyer. I feel that it is in the
interest of my children to try. My question is this, my ex has refused
to allow my children any contact with me since I filed. My oldest
daughter (13) wants to move to GA with me and we both have tried to
sit down with her mother to talk about this. Can my daughter talk to
the judge, or can her mother prevent this?
A: In general, a 13 year old is old enough to testify in court as to
her preferences. Further, a 13 year old is considered mature enough
that usually her wishes are entitled to fairly substantial weight. So
in the final custody hearing, it is likely that her wishes will
influence the judge (although they are not dispositive.) ..."
SOURCE: Dads Divorce
"Q: I need help. I am 14 years old and I do not want to live with
either parent. My mom has sole legal custody of me and my dad has
joint legal custody of my brother. I do not want to live with my
grandparents, aunts, or uncles. There is a friend of the family that I
would like to live with. Is there any way that friend of the family
could get joint legal custody of me? Thank you for your time.
A: The short answer is no. Parents have a strong legal presumption in
their favor that they are the best parent and overcoming that
presumption is very very difficult. Basically, before someone other
than a parent can gain custody, the parent must be proven to be unfit.
Certainly a 14 year old cannot choose whom to live with merely because
he or she would prefer not to live with a parent. I'm afraid you're
going to have to deal with the situation as it is."
SOURCE: Dads Divorce
Once you have custody of your granddaughter, if her parents want to
regain custody, they will need to file papers with the court that
issued the custody order asking the judge to return custody to them.
Although your granddaughter may no longer be in the custody of her
parents, they still have legal rights to visitation if the judge feels
it will be in the child's best interest. Visitation rights are usually
defined in the custody order and will often include information about
how and when the parent can visit the child.
SOURCE: Grandparents caring for Grandchildren
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The following state law may be helpful to grandparents and other
relatives raising children:
"Power of Attorney (Public Acts, Chapter No. 71, Senate Bill 526):
This law states that any parent who cannot care for his or her child
due to hardship may grant any state resident the power of attorney to
be legally responsible for their child. This authority may be
delegated without the approval of a court by executing in writing the
power of attorney on a form provided by the Department of Children's
SOURCE: A State Fact Sheet for Grandparents and Other Relatives Raising Children
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Listed below are some services that might be able to give you some direction:
Tennessee Department of Children's Services (DCS) has established the
Relative Caregiver Program for kinship caregivers who are raising
children who are in their physical and legal custody. Some financial
support may be provided, depending on need. DCS has contracted with
community-based agencies at three sites across the state to provide
services to kinship families in sixteen counties. Services include
individual and family counseling, legal services, financial aid,
respite, recreation, homemaker services, support groups, training,
concrete needs and case management. Contact: Elizabeth Black, Kinship
Care Program Coordinator, at (615) 532-5636 or
University of Tennessee Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities
provides emergency start-up services, counseling, respite care, legal
advice and counseling, and volunteer mentoring for kinship care
families. The Center serves Memphis and Shelby Counties. Contact:
Juanita Williams, Program Director, at (901) 448-3926 or
Family & Children's Services Relative Caregiver Program provides
quarterly education sessions, monthly support group meetings, family
therapy services, and consultation and representation by the
Vanderbilt Legal Clinic. The program serves Davidson County. Contact:
Shalonda Cawthon, Director, at (615) 251-1211 or
Tennessee State Kinship Advisory Board is comprised of a group of
policy makers, lawmakers, and relative caregivers who are working
together to build support for kinship families through out the state
of Tennessee. Contact: Elizabeth Black, Kinship Care Coordinator,
Department of Children's Services, at (615) 532-5636 or
email@example.com or Servella Terry, Family to Family
Co-Coordinator, Department of Children's Services, at (615) 532-5616
The Senior Neighbors-Relatives As Parents Program (RAPP) of
Chattanooga sponsors a network of monthly support groups for kinship
care. Contact: Joyce Clem, Director of Intergenerational Program, at
(423) 755-6105 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Knoxville's Knox County Community Action Committee Office on Aging
RAPP Program provides bimonthly newsletters, support groups,
transportation, group recreational activities and computer training
with internet access for kinship caregivers in Knox County. Contact:
Edna Eickman, Coordi-nator, at (865) 524-2786 or email@example.com.
The Advocates for the Aging offers a Relative Caregiver Program
provides families with emergency care and legal services. Contact:
Lisa Carter, RAPP Coordinator, at (931) 432-4111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
AARP Grandparent Information Center
Adoption Information Clearinghouse
The Brookdale Foundation Group
Child Welfare League of America
Children's Defense Fund
Grand Parent Again
National Aging Information Center
National Committee of Grandparents for Children's Rights
The Urban Institute
I hope this information is useful and should this answer require a
further explanation, please request clarification before rating it,
and I will be happy to look into this further. Best of luck to you
and your granddaughter.
Google Answers Researcher
Google Search Terms: Tennessee obtaining legal guardian grandparents