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In re Halley M.

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

September 19, 2017

IN RE HALLEY M.

          Session August 23, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Sumner County No. 2012-CV-1285 Joe H. Thompson, Judge

         Jerome V. and Teresa V. ("Petitioners") appeal the May 26, 2015 order of the Circuit Court for Sumner County ("the Trial Court") dismissing their Petition for Adoption and Termination of Parental Rights ("the Petition") based upon Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-119. We find and hold that Petitioners have shown good cause why the Petition should not be dismissed, and we vacate the Trial Court's May 26, 2015 order, reinstate the Petition, and remand this case for further proceedings.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Vacated Case Remanded

          Patti B. Garner, Gallatin, Tennessee, for the appellants, Jerome V. and Teresa V.

          Bruce N. Oldham, Gallatin, Tennessee, for the appellee, Jeremy M.

          James B. Hawkins, Gallatin, Tennessee, Guardian ad Litem.

          D. MICHAEL SWINEY, C.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which FRANK G. CLEMENT, JR., P.J., M.S. and JOHN W. MCCLARTY, J., joined.

          OPINION

          D. MICHAEL SWINEY, CHIEF JUDGE

         Background

         On November 13, 2012, Petitioners filed the Petition seeking to terminate the parental rights of Jeremy M. ("Respondent"), David G. ("Father"), and Destiny C. ("Mother") to the minor child Halley M. ("the Child").[1] Petitioners are the Child's maternal uncle and aunt. The Child had lived with Petitioners for more than two years when the Petition was filed. Respondent and Mother were not married to each other. Respondent, however, is listed as the father on the Child's birth certificate, and Respondent signed a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity ("VAP") when the Child was born.

         In January of 2013, Respondent filed a motion seeking to have a guardian ad litem appointed for the child and giving notice of hearing on his previously filed motion to compel parenting time. The Trial Court entered an order on January 24, 2013, appointing a guardian ad litem, finding that the Juvenile Court had entered an order in November of 2012 granting Respondent supervised visitation, and holding that Respondent was granted visitation with the Child, but that such visitation need not be supervised.

         In February of 2013, Petitioners filed a notice of filing DNA test results, which show that Father, not Respondent, is the biological father of the Child. Petitioners then filed a motion to modify, suspend, or reduce Respondent's parenting time or to require that Respondent's vistiation be supervised. Respondent filed a motion to expand his parenting time. The Guardian ad Litem then filed an ex parte emergency motion to suspend Respondent's parenting time alleging that the Child had been frightened during a visitation when Respondent forced her to lie about her age so she could drive a go-cart; that despite Respondent attempting to grow his hair for three months, the testing facility was unable to obtain a sufficient sample to conduct a drug test; that Mother allegedly had admitted that although Respondent was incarcerated at the time she conceived the Child, she and Respondent had agreed to falsely complete a VAP when the Child was born; and that Respondent had an active and outstanding warrant and the Tennessee Department of Corrections website listed Respondent's status as absconded.

         The Trial Court granted an ex parte emergency restraining order suspending Respondent's parenting time. By order entered July 17, 2013, the Trial Court extended the restraining order finding that Respondent was not present at the ...


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