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Effect of Adoption on Non-Parent Visitation

When a child is adopted, he or she becomes a part of the new adoptive family. As a result, the child’s ties to his or her old, natural or biological family are ended. If visitation rights had been granted to a nonparent, usually a grandparent, before the adoption, most courts would not permit continuation of the visitation. However, if the child is adopted by a stepparent, some courts would continue the visitation by the nonparent, if it is in the child’s best interests.

Nonparents, who have been awarded visitation rights, include grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews. Some state statutes provide that a nonparent’s visitation rights are not terminated by a stepparent adoption or the adoption by a grandparent or other blood relative of the child. In those states, pre-adoption visitation rights survive those adoptions. Some of the state statutes require that the nonparent show that continued visitation is in the child’s best interests and will not interfere with the new parent-child relationship that was created by adoption.

When siblings are not adopted together, some state statutes allow post-adoption visitation between them. Sibling visitation orders must also be in the best interests of the children. Unlike grandparent visitation, no fundamental liberty interest exists in maintaining a family relationship with another sibling through post-adoption visitation.

To seek post-adoption visitation rights, some states require that a nonparent file a motion to modify a dissolution decree. Such states have no independent action requesting visitation.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.