In order to terminate a parent's parental rights, a court must find that grounds to terminate exist and that termination is in the best interest of the child. A recent Tennessee Attorney General opinion addressed the issue of whether Tennessee Code Annotated §36-1-113(g)(6) can be used as grounds to terminate parental rights when the parent has already served his sentence and been released. The statute provides grounds to terminate parental rights when the parent has been confined in a correctional or detention facility under a sentence of ten or more years, and the child is under eight years of age when the sentence is entered by the court.
The opinion shows that the statute can be used to terminate even if the parent has already served his sentence and been released. The opinion relied on a Tennessee Court of Appeals case where the Court held that the statute applies regardless of whether the parent is incarcerated or has already been released. In the Matter of D.M., 2009 WL 2461199 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2009). The Court noted that the "clear language of this statute does not contain limiting language requiring the parent actually to be incarcerated when the termination petition is filed."
Parental rights may be terminated even if the parent is no longer incarcerated or served less than ten years in confinement. So, if you have been sentenced to serve ten or more years in a correctional or detention facility, the court can find grounds to terminate your parental rights. The court would then conduct a best interest analysis to determine whether terminating your parental rights would be in the best interest of the child.