New Legislation Brings Enforceable Post-Adoption Contact Agreements to Tennessee
In 2019 a new bill was passed that introduced an entirely new concept to Tennessee adoption law by authorizing enforceable post-adoption contact agreements (PACA's) and became effective March 22, 2019. Because the legal relationship between a child and their biological parent is terminated upon adoption, any arrangement involving contact after the adoption involves voluntary agreement of the parties. This has been true since 1996 however the new bill gives the option of making these PACA’s legally enforceable. The old statute even stated that “open adoptions” were not enforceable.
There are a broad range of items that can be addressed in a new enforceable PACA including visitation with the child, contact with the child, sharing of information about the child, sharing information about the biological parents or adoptive parents and enforceable PACA’s can be entered into with any “legal relative” not just biological parents.
The Courthouse is not the first stop in enforcement of these Post Adoption Contact Agreements. A birth parent seeking to enforce a PACA must first deliver a letter to the other party stating the issues. If the issue is not resolved within 30 days between the parties, the adoptive parents must then obtain a written opinion for a licensed psychological professional as to the child’s best interest on the issues being raised along with their recommendation. If the parties are still unable to reach an agreement they must go to mediation. If mediation fails, THEN the parties may petition the court for enforcement.
If you need help establishing a Post Adoption Contact Agreement or enforcing a PACA contact the Aldred Law Firm today.