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In re Conner C.

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

March 20, 2017

IN RE CONNER C., ET AL.

          Assigned on Brief March 1, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Franklin County No. 2016-CV-36 Justin C. Angel, Judge

         Mother appeals the circuit court's dismissal of her de novo appeal of the juvenile court's dependency and neglect order. We agree with the circuit court that the juvenile court's adjudicatory order was not a final order subject to appeal to the circuit court.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed

          Glen A. Isbell, Winchester, Tennessee, for the appellant, Rachel M.C.

          Robert F. Davis, Winchester, Tennessee, for the appellees, Jodi M.E. and Jerry W.C.

          Andy D. Bennett, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Charles D. Susano, Jr., and Kenny W. Armstrong, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          ANDY D. BENNETT, JUDGE

         Factual and Procedural Background

         Rachel M.C. ("Mother") and Jerry W.C. ("Father") are the biological parents of Conner J.C., Elanina M.C., and Mary E.C.[1] On November 10, 2015, Jodi M.E., Father's girlfriend, filed a petition for emergency temporary custody in juvenile court against Mother and Father regarding their three minor children. In the petition, Jodi M.E. alleged as follows:

The children are neglected and dependent by their mother. I am filing for emergency custody of the children due to the father being shot in the chest at child swap by the mother's husband. We fear the mother will attempt to take the children to her residence in Shelbyville where the children would be around their step-father that shot their father in front of them.

         On November 11, 2015, the juvenile court entered an order granting temporary custody to Jodi M.E. and set a hearing for November 18, 2015.

         After the preliminary hearing on November 18, the juvenile court entered an order on November 25, finding that there was "probable cause of dependency and neglect against the mother." The court placed temporary custody with Jodi M.E. and granted Mother visitation every other Saturday supervised by the maternal grandmother.[2] The court also appointed a guardian ad litem and set the case for an adjudicatory hearing on December 16, 2015.

         On December 16, the parties agreed to continue the case and reset the adjudicatory hearing for February 10, 2016. The parties further agreed that temporary custody remain with Jodi M.E., that the maternal grandmother be granted the parenting time allotted to Mother in the parenting plan (entered by the juvenile court prior to the dependency and neglect petition), and that Mother have 24-hour supervised visitation during the maternal grandmother's weekend visitation.

         A hearing was held on February 10, 2016.[3] The juvenile court found that Jodi M.E. and Father had met their burden of proof against Mother by clear and convincing evidence of dependency and neglect of the three minor children. The court awarded temporary custody to Father and Jodi M.E. and awarded the maternal grandmother visitation on the weekends allocated to Mother in the parenting plan. Mother was given supervised visitation of one 24-hour period each weekend when the maternal grandmother had the children. The court further ordered:

4.. . . [M]aternal grandmother shall not allow[ ] smoking at her residence in the children's presence. She shall follow the doctor's recommendations regarding dust mite covers for the children's pillows and mattresses, weekly washing their ...

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