2015 Tennessee Code
Title 37 - Juveniles
Chapter 1 - Juvenile Courts and Proceedings
Part 8 - Permanent Guardianship
§ 37-1-802 - Who may be appointed permanent guardian -- Criteria for children and permanent guardian -- Best interests determination.
(a) The court may consider any adult, including a relative, foster parent, or another adult with a significant relationship with the child as a permanent guardian. If the child is in the department's custody, the court shall seek the department's opinion on both the proposed permanent guardianship and the proposed permanent guardian. An agency or institution may not be a permanent guardian.
(b) The court may issue a permanent guardianship order only if the court finds that:
(1) The child has been previously adjudicated dependent and neglected, unruly or delinquent;
(2) The child has been living with the proposed permanent guardian for at least six (6) months;
(3) The permanent guardianship is in the child's best interests;
(4) Reunification of the parent and child is not in the child's best interests; and
(5) The proposed permanent guardian:
(A) Is emotionally, mentally, physically and financially suitable to become the permanent guardian;
(B) Is suitable and able to provide a safe and permanent home for the child;
(C) Has expressly committed to remain the permanent guardian for the duration of the child's minority;
(D) Has expressly demonstrated a clear understanding of the financial implications of becoming a permanent guardian, including an understanding of any potential resulting loss of state or federal benefits or other assistance; and
(E) Will comply with all terms of any court order to provide the child's parent with visitation, contact or information.
(c) In determining whether it is in the child's best interests that a permanent guardian be designated, in addition to any other evidence the court finds relevant, the court shall consider each of the following factors:
(1) The child's need for continuity of care and caregivers, and for timely integration into a stable and permanent home, taking into account the differences in the development and the concept of time of children of different ages;
(2) The physical, mental, and emotional health of all individuals involved to the degree that each affects the welfare of the child, the decisive consideration being the physical, mental, and emotional needs of the child; and
(3) The quality of the interaction and interrelationship of the child with the child's parent, siblings, relatives, and caregivers, including the proposed permanent guardian.
(d) Appointment of a permanent guardian under this part is not limited to children in the custody of the department.
(e) If the child is twelve (12) years of age or older, the court shall consider the reasonable preference of the child. The court may hear the preference of a younger child. The preferences of older children should normally be given greater weight than those of younger children.
(f) The parent may voluntarily consent to the permanent guardianship, and shall demonstrate an understanding of the implications and obligations of such consent prior to the court entering an order establishing a permanent guardianship in accordance with the provisions of this part.
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