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How do Postadoptive Contact Agreements become enforceable?
According to NRS 127.187, for Postadoptive Contact Agreements to be enforceable they must be in writing and signed by the birth parents and adoptive parents as well as incorporated into an order or decree of adoption. Once these steps have been followed the agreement will stay in effect until either the child reaches the age of 18, is emancipated, or the agreement is terminated.
What if a party to the agreement does not comply?
According to NRS 127.189, if a party fails to comply with the agreement it will not allow them to set it aside or get damages; the most common remedy is for the Court to enforce the terms of the agreement. What is especially important to remember is the fairly brief statute of limitations attached to actions for enforcement. An action to enforce an agreement must be brought within 120 days after the date of breach.
What if the visits become a problem for the child or family?
According to NRS 127.1895, there are some circumstances in which an adoptive parent may petition the Court to have the postadoptive contact agreement modified or terminated. To do so the parent must petition the Court which entered the order or decree and show that, 1) a change in circumstances warrants modification or termination, or 2) the contract required by the agreement is no longer in the best interests of the child.
The best interests of the child are paramount in the Court’s decision making process. In fact, according to the statute, if the adoptive parents petition the Court to terminate or modify the agreement it is presumed by the Court that modification or termination are in the best interests of the child. Then it becomes the opponent’s burden to show the agreement is in the child’s best interests, a difficult burden to overcome.
Another important thing to remember for adoptive parents is that according to NRS 127.1895(3), any order issued to modify an agreement may not expand or increase contact between the child and other parties involved, or place any new obligation on the adoptive parent.
If you would like more information or need help resolving an issue with a postadoptive contact agreement, contact Ellsworth, Moody & Bennion today.