Article I. General Provisions


Rule 1: Title of Rules —Scope —Purpose and Construction —Situations Not Covered by Rules.

(a) Title. These rules shall be known and cited as the Tennessee Rules of Juvenile Procedure.

(b) Scope. These rules shall govern the procedure in juvenile court in all cases in which children are alleged to be delinquent, unruly, dependent and neglected, or abandoned; in all cases involving emergency temporary care under T.C.A. § 37-1-128; in all cases to revoke the probation of delinquent or unruly children; and in all cases to terminate home placements under T.C.A. § 37-1-137. The procedures employed in general sessions court under the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure shall govern all cases in which children are alleged to have committed juvenile traffic offenses as defined in T.C.A. § 37-1-146 and all cases heard in juvenile court involving child abuse prosecutions under T.C.A. §§ 37-1-412 and 39-15-401, nonsupport of children, or contributing to the delinquency or unruly behavior or dependency and neglect of children, pursuant to T.C.A. §§ 37-1-156 and 37-1-157. The Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure shall govern all cases involving the termination of parental rights, paternity cases, guardianship and mental health commitment cases involving children, and child custody proceedings under T.C.A. §§ 36-6-101, et seq., 36-6-201, et seq., and 37-1-104(a)(2) and (f); however, discovery in such cases in juvenile court shall be governed by Rule 25 of these rules. Rule 39 shall also apply in termination of parental rights proceedings. In a case governed by the Rules of Civil Procedure, the rules may be suspended by the court upon a finding supported by specific facts stated on the record and in the final order that the interests of justice so require. In the event that the Rules of Civil Procedure are suspended, the Rules of Juvenile Procedure shall apply. Contempt proceedings shall be conducted pursuant to the procedures applicable in courts of general jurisdiction.

(c) Purpose and Construction. These rules are designed to implement the purposes of the juvenile court law as expressed in T.C.A. § 37-1-101 by providing speedy and inexpensive procedures for the hearing of juvenile cases that assure fairness and equity and that protect the rights and interests of all parties; by promoting uniformity in practice and procedure; and by providing guidance to judges, rmagistrates, attorneys, youth services and probation officers, and others participating in the juvenile court.

(d) Situations Not Covered by Rules. Where no specific procedure is prescribed by these rules, the court may proceed in any lawful manner, in accordance with written local rules of court, which shall not be inconsistent with these rules or with any other applicable law.

[As amended by order filed December 29, 2005, effective July 1, 2006; by order filed January 2, 2007, effective July 1, 2007; and by order filed January 13, 2012, effective July 1, 2012.]

Advisory Commission Comments.

These rules are promulgated pursuant to statutory authority granting rule-making power to the Supreme Court. They are intended to provide a simple and practical means of operating in juvenile court in a manner which will adequately implement the law. To facilitate reference to the law, portions of the juvenile courts chapter of the Tennessee Code Annotated and other relevant law are included in an appendix to the rules.

 These rules are not comprehensive. For example, they do not provide specific procedures for proceedings for the transfer between Tennessee and another state of children found to be delinquent, unruly or dependent and neglected, for disposition as provided in T.C.A. §§ 37-1-141 —37-1-144; nor do they deal with proceedings under the Interstate Juvenile Compact as found at T.C.A. §§ 37-4-101 —37-4-106; with proceedings under the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children as found at T.C.A. §§ 37-4-201, 37-4-202; or with proceedings in which children seek to obtain judicial consent to marriage, employment, or enlistment in the armed services. (All of the above examples are listed in T.C.A. §§ 37-1-103, 37-1-104 as being under the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court.) It is intended that these rules be applied in every instance in which they address the procedure involved. If they do not expressly or by clear implication relate to the procedure in question, then existing law is to be applied. As stated in section (d) of this rule, it is also intended that local juvenile courts adopt their own written rules, which are consistent with these rules and with relevant statutory and case law, to cover particular circumstances not presently addressed by these rules. Examples of areas which might be addressed by local rules are suggested in the comments to these rules.

 There are few specific references in these rules to child abuse cases, because child abuse is generally brought to the attention of the juvenile court as a ground for finding a child dependent and neglected or for terminating parental rights. The committee suggests that where child abuse is an issue, in addition to following the procedures required in these rules pertaining to dependent and neglected and termination cases, reference be made to the law contained in the relevant code sections of the juvenile courts chapter for more particular criteria and requirements regarding such abuse cases. See T.C.A. §§ 37-1-102, 37-1-129, 37-1-130, and 37-1-147. References to these code sections are generally included where pertinent in the rules. The law on criminal child abuse and on mandatory child abuse reporting (including requirements on reporting both to and by the juvenile court) is found at T.C.A. § 37-1-401 et seq. See also § 39-15-401.

Advisory Commission Comment [2006].

Rule 1(b) is amended to ensure that children and their families in specified domestic relations cases pending in the Juvenile courts enjoy the same procedures, rights, and rules as those children and families have in similar cases pending in Circuit, Chancery, or other courts with concurrent jurisdiction.

Advisory Commission Comments [2007].

The amendment applies Rule 39 of the Rules of Juvenile Procedure to all termination proceedings in juvenile court. The amendment clarifies that a judicial finding must be made in order for the Rules of Civil Procedure to be suspended and that the Rules of Juvenile Procedure shall apply in those proceedings where such finding has been made.

Advisory Commission Comments [2012].

The 2012 amendment substitutes the term "magistrates" for the term "referees," consistent with statutory changes enacted by the General Assembly.

Advisory Commission Comments [2013].

The 2013 amendment added the statutory references to T.C.A. §§ 37-1-156 and -157 after the phrase “or contributing to the delinquency or unruly behavior or dependency and neglect of children” to alleviate misinterpretation of the rule.  In cases in which an adult is charged with contributing to the delinquency or unruly behavior or dependency and neglect of a child, the procedures employed in general sessions court under the Rules of Criminal Procedure apply.  In all cases in which children are alleged to be delinquent, unruly, dependent and neglected, or abandoned, the Rules of Juvenile Procedure apply, as stated in the first sentence of section (b).

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