NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – The Tennessee Supreme Court has ruled that parents have a constitutional right to be treated fairly during court proceedings in which they face losing their children but they cannot appeal termination orders on the grounds that their appointed attorneys were ineffective.
In criminal cases, defendants have a right to a competent attorney.
The court, in its opinion last week, said adopting the same standard in parental termination cases has the potential to drag out court cases for years and cause serious harm to children.
Children cannot be adopted until the litigation is over.
In its ruling, the court added additional safeguards in the appeals process to make sure that parental rights aren’t wrongfully severed.