Session Date: November 22, 2016
Appeal from the Juvenile Court for Jefferson County No.
15-00926 Dennis (Will) Roach, II, Judge
a Tenn. R. App. P. 9 interlocutory appeal. Biological
grandparents of a child at issue in a termination of parental
rights action sought to intervene in the termination
proceeding. The child had lived in the grandparents' home
with them and the child's parents. The Department of
Children's Services removed the child from that home and
later sought to terminate the parental rights of the
child's parents. The grandparents filed a motion to
intervene. The trial court denied their motion, but granted
their request for an interlocutory appeal. Thereafter, we
also granted their request for interlocutory review. We
affirm the decision of the trial court and now remand this
case to the trial court for further proceedings.
R. App. P. 9 Interlocutory Appeal; Judgment of the Juvenile
Court Affirmed; Case Remanded
T. Sholly, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellants, J.H. and
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter,
Andrée S. Blumstein, Solicitor General, and Kathryn A.
Baker, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for
the appellee, Tennessee Department of Children's
G. Larson, Dandridge, Tennessee, for the appellee, K.J.
Charles D. Susano, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the
court, in which D. Michael Swiney, C.J., and John W.
McClarty, J., joined.
CHARLES D. SUSANO, JR., JUDGE
(grandmother) and S.J. (grandfather) are the maternal
grandparents of the child at issue, C.H. The child was born
in May 2010 to K.J. (mother) and R.H. (father). Since 2010,
the child had lived with his grandparents. The same house was
also shared by the child's parents, aunt, and older
cousin. DCS removed the child from the home in November 2014
due, in part, to the parents' drug use.
filed a dependency and neglect action against the child's
parents in the trial court. The grandparents sought to
intervene, but their application was denied. On October 16,
2015, DCS filed a petition to terminate the parental rights
of the child's parents. The grandparents again moved to
intervene. Along with their motion, they attached three
affidavits asserting that the grandparents, rather
than the parents, looked after the child, providing him with
food, shelter, clothing, and transportation, among other
things. The trial court dismissed the motion to intervene,
this matter, including a hearing on the merits, has
previously been heard on September 2, 2015, in the Dependence
and Neglect case filed in this court on November 26, 2014,
and nothing has changed regarding the [grandparents']
circumstances since then.
grandparents then asked the trial court to permit them to
pursue a Tenn. R. App. P. 9 interlocutory appeal. The trial
court granted their request. It listed the following reasons
for its action:
Having given consideration to the severity of potential
injury to the [grandparents], the probability of its
occurrence and the probability that review upon entry of
final judgment will be ineffective, this Court believes this
Order is appealable due to the need to prevent irreparable
The [grandparents] are seeking permission to Intervene in a
Termination of Parental Rights action with a view to
obtaining visitation with and/or custody of their grandson,
the minor child in the case. If they are not allowed to
intervene at this time, they will be unable to appeal the
final judgment as they would not be parties to the case. If
their daughter's rights are terminated, [the
grandparents] will forever be deprived of a legal
relationship with the child, which is an irreparable injury.
Even if they do not prevail in their petition for custody, if
[the grandparents] are allowed to intervene they would at
least have the opportunity to seek visitation with their
grandson during the pendency of this matter until he is
For purposes of judicial efficiency and economy, and to
prevent the need for additional filings by [the grandparents,
] which might delay permanent placement of the child, which
would not be in his best interest, ...