Q: As a legal Aunt by marriage, do I have familial custody rights to my nieces & nephews?
5 children aged 5 to 9-10 mos old. Removed from parents by TN CPS due to unfit conditions & drugs. Children are in emergency foster care. Can I have legal custody of these children to get them out of foster care? They're nieces & nephews by marriage. Father is unfit & doesn't want them, mother is unfit & has disappeared. I also live in TN, just a different county.
A: You should speak with the DCS Child Protective Services Investigator and Family Services Worker on this case, and ask them to do a home visit and background checks to consider you for "temporary custody" pending the outcome of the dependency and neglect proceeding that DCS has likely filed against the parents. DCS tries to place children with family members.
Regarding "familial custody rights" - At this point it's not a question of rights as parental rights haven't been terminated at this time and this likely wouldn't fall under the statute for grandparent visitation rights.
It is a question of the Department of Children's Services finding appropriate and safe placement that is in the best interests of the children, and their obligation to seek such a placement with family members before resorting to foster care.
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