White House, TN asked in Child Custody and Family Law for Tennessee

Q: Will child protective services take a child from the parents custody because the child changes schools 3 times in a year

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Divorce Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: No, in Tennessee merely changing schools multiple times is unlikely by itself to lead to Child Protective Services removing a child from their parents' custody.

The Tennessee Department of Children's Services (DCS) follows specific legal standards for when removal is appropriate. According to TN law, DCS must have probable cause to believe the child is suffering from abuse or neglect or is in immediate danger.

Frequent school changes alone does not meet the legal standards for removal in Tennessee. However, here are some factors DCS may consider:

- Is there a valid reason for the school changes, like family moves, financial difficulties, etc? Or is it due to parental negligence?

- Is the child's basic needs being met - housing, food, medical care, supervision? Are they left unsupervised for long periods?

- Is there domestic violence, substance abuse, or instability in the home environment?

- Is the child experiencing academic struggles, truancy, or delinquency associated with the school changes?

- Does the family have prior history or interactions with DCS?

While school changes can be disruptive, the parents' fundamental care for safety and well-being is DCS's main focus. Unless there are aggravating factors indicating abuse/neglect, removal just for school transfers is unlikely. The parents would likely receive services/intervention to improve stability before drastic measures like removal occur.

So in summary, frequent school changes alone does not meet the legal threshold for removal of a child in Tennessee. But it may trigger closer scrutiny for other signs of an unsafe home environment.

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