TBA Law Blog

Posted by: Berkley Schwarz on Apr 18, 2018
The Tennessee: First In Adoption Act, SB1851, passed the Senate unanimously today. Sponsored by Sen. Ferrell Haile, R-Gallatin, and Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, the legislation makes significan changes to Tennessee adoption laws. The legislation was drafted by members of the TBA Adoption Law Section, specifically Dawn Coppock, Mike Jennings and Robert Tuke. First in Adoption makes a number of modifications in adoption and termination law, some extremely important and some housekeeping measures. The first change is a new, less bureaucratic surrender form, included in the Tennessee Code, which is only two pages and much more clear. Second, the bill both increases protections for active, unwed fathers and limits the rights of inactive fathers seeking to disrupt or delay adoption plans. It also expands jurisdiction and venue requirements, including an expansion of jurisdiction to include new residents and Tennesseans in military service who are stationed outside of Tennessee. Additionally, the bill removes some of the requirements on four key grounds for involuntary termination of parental rights that are not constitutionally required. The bill was earlier passed unanimously by the House and will now go into effect July 1, if signed by the governor.