Thomas W Coupé

Thomas W Coupé

Experienced Attorney with a specialty in Juvenile and Child Welfare Law.
  • Juvenile Law, Family Law
  • Tennessee
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Biography

Tom Coupé works for the Juvenile Court of Memphis & Shelby County as an Administrator over the Child Welfare Division of the Court and also serves as a Juvenile Magistrate.

Tom was involved in the creation and negotiation of the Department of Justice's Memorandum of Agreement with Juvenile Court, and he formerly served as the Community Outreach point of contact created by the Agreement.

He has served in several other capacities within the court, including overseeing the Judge's Action Center and Office of Noncustodial Parent, which assist the public with making navigating the court system easier for pro se clients.

Tom graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Memphis in 1995 and earned his J.D. from the Southern Illinois University School of Law in 2003. While at Southern Illinois University, Tom was Vice-President of the Student Body, a member of the Southern Illinois University Moot Court Board and was inducted into The Order of Barristers for excellence in oral advocacy.

Before coming to Juvenile Court, Tom was a Court Improvement Attorney with the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts. Prior to that, he was Assistant General Counsel for the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services in Shelby, Rutherford, and Williamson Counties.

Tom is recognized by the National Association of Counsel for Children as a Child Welfare Law Specialist and was the first attorney in Shelby County certified by the Tennessee Commission on Continuing Education and Specialization as a Juvenile Law-Child Welfare Specialist.

Practice Areas
    Juvenile Law
    Family Law
    Adoption, Child Custody, Child Support, Father's Rights, Guardianship & Conservatorship, Paternity, Prenups & Marital Agreements, Restraining Orders, Same Sex Family Law
Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice
Tennessee
Board of Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of Tennessee
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Languages
  • English
Professional Experience
Administrator
Juvenile Court of Memphis and Shelby County
- Current
ADMINISTRATOR, 10/2007-current JUVENILE COURT OF MEMPHIS & SHELBY COUNTY --Memphis, TN Currently serve as ad hoc Magistrate for dependency and neglect, custody/visitation, and foster care dockets at Juvenile Court. Supervise the Judge’s Action Center, which serves as a liaison between the public and the Court to provide helpful and timely answers for people who have questions or concerns involving Juvenile Court and child welfare related issues. Supervise attorneys the Office of Non-Custodial Advocate, which assists pro se litigants in cases involving child support and custody/visitation. ? Supervise the Office of Guardian ad Litem, Court Appointed Special Advocate, Foster Care, and Child Support as part of my Administrator duties at Juvenile Court. Serve as part of Juvenile Court’s Senior Leadership Team Conduct legal research and analysis regarding child welfare issues.
Court Improvement Attorney
Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts
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Developed, planned and implemented educational seminars for judiciary, foster care review boards, and attorneys in the areas of child dependency and termination of parental rights. Conducted primary research for the 2007 Court Improvement Legal Advocacy manual. Provided technical assistance to judges and attorneys; worked with courts and other governmental agencies in improving procedures in foster care cases.
Assistant General Counsel
Tennessee Department of Children's Services
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Represented the State in termination of parental rights and dependency & neglect cases in Juvenile, Chancery, and Circuit courts as the sole attorney for Rutherford and Williamson Counties. Provided legal advice to case managers regarding removal and placement issues. Drafted, wrote, and submitted all petitions, motions, and orders involving termination of parental rights and dependency & neglect cases for Rutherford and Williamson Counties. Served as the Department’s representative at Child Protective Investigation Team (CPIT) meetings involving severe abuse cases.
Special Hearing Officer
Tennessee Department of Human Services
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Served as a temporary Administrative Law Judge for the State presiding over TennCare disenrollment hearings pursuant to procedures contained in the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act . Administered oaths, questioned witnesses, listened to testimony, recorded hearings, analyzed and evaluated pertinent facts on each appeal. Prepared written decisions based on verbal and documentary evidence and applied departmental policies, procedures, rules and regulations with respect to Federal and State laws.
Assistant General Counsel
Tennessee Department of Children's Services
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Represented the State in dependency and neglect cases in Juvenile, Chancery, and Circuit Courts. Provided legal advice to case managers regarding removal and placement issues. Managed approximately 200 cases at any given time. Was sole attorney responsible for representing the Department in all permanency plan ratifications and hearings.
Education
Southern Illinois University School of Law
J.D. (2003)
-
Honors: Order of Barristers Dean's List-Spring 2002
Activities: Moot Court Board Student Council Vice-President
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Professional Associations
Memphis Bar Association
Member
Current
Activities: Family Law Section
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National Association of Counsel for Children
Member
- Current
Activities: Certified Child Welfare Law Specialist State Coordinatior
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State Bar of Tennessee
Member
- Current
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Speaking Engagements
The Nuts and Bolts of Practicing in Juvenile Court, Family Law Mid-Year CLE, Memphis, TN
Memphis Bar Association
Presenting an overview of juvenile law basics for practitioners who are new to juvenile court.
A View from Court Administration, Juvenile & Children's Law Virtual 2021, Virtual
Tennessee Bar Association
Survey of practices and procedures among the juvenile courts in Tennessee's three grand divisions.
Certifications
Child Welfare Law Specialist
National Association of Counsel for Children
Legal Answers
3 Questions Answered
Q. How to pursue relocation if I am the custodial parent of 2 boys?
A: The custodial parent is free to move without the court’s approval if that move is less than 50 miles from the other parent. If that parent wants to move further or out-if-state, the law requires the parent to provide a written notice to the courts and the other parent.

The notice must meet specific requirements and be provided by certified registered mail no later than 60-days before the date of the proposed move. The other parent has 30-days after receiving the notice to file a Petition in Opposition to Move with the court. If no objection is filed with the court within the 30-days, the parent may move with the children.

The written notice must include:

A statement of intent to move.

The location of the proposed new residence.

The reasons for the proposed move.

A statement that the other parent may file a Petition in Opposition to Move within 30-days of receipt of the notice.
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Q. If parent filed modification for custody in TN and TN parenting plan wasn’t signed by judge would previous order stand?
A: The courts speak through their orders and only order that have been signed and entered will ultimately have authority.

HOWEVER...sometimes a court will rule on a matter and that ruling takes effect immediately. Sometimes there is a delay before the order has been created, filed, signed, and then entered.

You should contact the court where the second matter took place and inquire as to the status of that order.
Q. What happens in court for first time on a child neglect case
A: It depends on each court, but if DCS is involved it normally means DCS will file a petition for dependency and neglect and state in that petition why they believe a child is in danger. If DCS believes it is an emergency, they may file a Protective Custody Order (PCO) and remove the child from the home. The court will hold an emergency hearing to determine if the child(ren) should remain out of the home. Any parent who cannot afford an attorney can have one appointed and all children will receive a Guardian ad Litem (an attorney to represent the child).
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Contact & Map
616 Adams Avenue
Memphis, TN 38105
Telephone: (901) 222-0881
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