A child’s contact with his or her biological parents after adoption is not always the norm. In many cases, an adopted child begins a new life, and only sees former family members if the child later chooses to seek them out. For all intents and purposes, an adopted child becomes a part of his or her new adopted family, and almost all legal and social ties to the biological family are cut. If the adopting parent is a step-parent married to one of the biological parents, both biological parents may wish to stay in contact with one another. In some cases, this open adoption could help the child better adjust to the adoption. If the parties wish to do so, they can enter into a post adoption contact agreement before the adoption is finalized. A post adoption contact agreement allows for visitation or other contact between an adopted child and his or her new family and the child’s biological family. Visitation contact is most likely to occur when the child has a pre-existing relationship with the biological parent giving up parental rights. In some cases, post-adoption contact agreements can exist between the adopted family and a person with whom the child has a strong relationship, such as a foster parent. While the adopting step-parent and the custodial biological parent are not required to grant visitation, a post-adoption agreement can help the parties recognize the boundaries and expectations of the arrangement should they choose to make one. Once entered into, the agreement becomes legally enforceable. Whether or not the agreement is followed has no effect on the adoption. An adoption cannot be reversed even if the agreement is broken. Children over the age of 12 years are given a say in the agreement, and must submit a written document approving of the post adoption contract agreement.
Termination of a Post-Adoption Contract Agreement
- All parties, including children over the age of 12 years, agree to the change or termination; or
- The following conditions are met:
- The termination or change is required to serve the child’s best interests;
- There has been a substantial change of circumstances since the original post-adoption contact agreement was entered into and approved by the court;
- Before asking the court to change or end the agreement, the party making the petition tried to work out any disagreements through mediation or participating in other methods of dispute resolution with the other party.
Handling Disputes Surrounding a Post-Adoption Contact Agreement
Mediation and other dispute resolution methods are the preferred way of dealing with disputes arising from a post-adoption contract. If mediation is needed, each party pays its own legal fees related to the mediation. If, after mediation, the judge finds that all parties are following the agreement, then the party wanting the change or termination (other than the child) will pay both parties legal fees. So too, if a party violates the agreement, then they will pay both parties legal fees.
Low-Cost Legal Document Preparation for Adoption Matters
If you are a stepparent and would like to adopt your spouse’s child, you can go ahead without an attorney. There are several steps to take and forms to fill out. Contact A People’s Choice for low-cost legal document help. Although we cannot give legal advice, A People’s Choice can help you in preparing all the required legal documents to help you with your adoption and post adoption contract agreement without having to hire a lawyer.
If you need more information about adoptions, do not hesitate to call our office. A People’s Choice has been providing self-help legal document services for over 35 years and has established an excellent reputation in the community. When you are ready to go ahead with your paperwork, information can be provided to us through our convenient online system, over the phone or in person.
A People’s Choice provides post-adoption contract agreement and other legal document preparation services for filing in all courts throughout California.