As a grandparent, you may be wondering what the legal options are for custody and adoption. Certain family situations can lead to the adoption of grandchildren by grandparents. This can happen when the parents are deemed unfit to raise children or when both parents pass away. There are several reasons a parent may be deemed unfit to raise a child. However, courts also have to determine whether the grandparents are fit to raise a child. Be sure to talk with an experienced Tennessee family law lawyer if you have questions about this process. 

When Can A Grandparent Adopt a Child?

The two main circumstances that may allow a grandparent to adopt a child are when the parents of that child are unable to raise the child or both parents have passed away. When parents are deemed unfit to raise their children by the court, this is called an involuntary termination of parental rights.

There are several factors that go into deciding the terminal of parental rights. Family courts will look at the present and historical behaviors and incidents. Parents may lose their rights if courts discover sexual or physical abuse, neglect, abandonment, or a failure to support the child. Excessive substance abuse by either parent is also considered. 

Mental illnesses that are severe, chronic, and debilitating can deem a parent unfit to raise a child. Some examples include psychosis, bipolar disorders, and other mental disorders that prevent a parent from raising the child in a safe, stable, and secure environment. Not every instance of a mental disorder like psychosis can make a parent lose their rights as long as the mental disorder is managed with treatment. 

When it comes to making the final decision, courts will look at whether the parents have taken steps to correct these grounds for parental unfitness. 

How Courts Determine Whether Grandparent Can Raise Child

Not only will courts determine whether parents are fit to raise a child, but they will apply this same standard for grandparents. This has to be done before an adoption can be granted. Family courts will also use the best interests of the child standard. 

The best interests of the child standard are used as a guide for making legal decisions that will affect the child’s future circumstances. This standard considers factors related to the child’s health, safety, protection, and education. 

Tennessee courts will also look at whether the grandparents have established a relationship with the child, the effects this major change will have on the child, and whether the grandparents have engaged in criminal activities that could be detrimental to the child.

Family Law Lawyer in Tennessee 

The process of adopting a grandchild can be difficult depending on the circumstances and interfering factors. Consider contacting Davis Law Firm at 865-354-3333 today to talk to a Family Law lawyer in Tennessee. Our offices are located in McMinnville, Johnson City, Sparta, Kingston, Crossville, Cookeville, and the surrounding areas. We will work with you to figure out what options you have and can defend your adoption rights in court if necessary