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2014 California Rules of Court

Rule 5.451. Contact after adoption agreement

(a) Applicability of rule

This rule applies to any adoption of a child. The adoption petition must be filed under Family Code sections 8714 and 8714.5. If the child is a dependent of the juvenile court, the adoption petition may be filed in that juvenile court and the clerk must open a confidential adoption file for the child, and this file must be separate and apart from the dependency file, with an adoption case number different from the dependency case number. For the purposes of this rule, a "relative" is defined as follows:

(1)An adult related to the child or the child's sibling or half-sibling by blood or affinity, including a relative whose status is preceded by the word "step," "great," "great-great," or "grand"; or

(2)The spouse or domestic partner of any of the persons described in (1) even if the marriage or domestic partnership was terminated by dissolution or the death of the spouse related to the child.

(Subd (a) amended effective January 1, 2013; previously amended effective January 1, 2007.)

(b) Contact after adoption agreement

An adoptive parent or parents, a birth relative or relatives, including a birth parent or parents of a child who is the subject of an adoption petition, and the child may enter into a written agreement permitting postadoption contact between the child and birth relatives. No prospective adoptive parent or birth relative may be required by court order to enter into a contact after adoption agreement.

(Subd (b) amended effective January 1, 2013; previously amended effective July 1, 2001, January 1, 2003, and July 1, 2003.)

(c) Court approval; time of decree

If, at the time the adoption petition is granted, the court finds that the agreement is in the best interest of the child, the court may enter the decree of adoption and grant postadoption contact as reflected in the approved agreement.

(Subd (c) amended effective January 1, 2013; previously amended effective January 1, 2003.)

(d) Terms of agreement

The terms of the agreement are limited to the following, although they need not include all permitted terms:

(1)Provisions for visitation between the child and a birth parent or parents;

(2)Provisions for visitation between the child and other identified birth relatives, including siblings or half-siblings of the child;

(3)Provisions for contact between the child and a birth parent or parents;

(4)Provisions for contact between the child and other identified birth relatives, including siblings or half-siblings of the child;

(5)Provisions for contact between the adoptive parent or parents and a birth parent or parents;

(6)Provisions for contact between the adoptive parent or parents and other identified birth relatives, including siblings or half-siblings of the child;

(7)Provisions for the sharing of information about the child with a birth parent or parents;

(8)Provisions for the sharing of information about the child with other identified birth relatives, including siblings or half-siblings of the child; and

(9)The terms of any contact after adoption agreement entered into under a petition filed under Family Code section 8714 must be limited to the sharing of information about the child unless the child has an existing relationship with the birth relative.

(Subd (d) amended effective January 1, 2013; previously amended effective July 1, 2001, January 1, 2003, July 1, 2003 ,and January 1, 2007.)

(e) Child a party

The child who is the subject of the adoption petition is a party to the agreement whether or not specified as such.

(1)Written consent by a child 12 years of age or older to the terms of the agreement is required for enforcement of the agreement, unless the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the agreement is in the best interest of the child and waives the requirement of the child's written consent.

(2)If the child has been found by a juvenile court to be described by section 300 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, an attorney must be appointed to represent the child for purposes of participation in and consent to any contact after adoption agreement, regardless of the age of the child. If the child has been represented by an attorney in the dependency proceedings, that attorney must be appointed for the additional responsibilities of this rule. The attorney is required to represent the child only until the adoption is decreed and dependency terminated.

(Subd (e) amended effective January 1, 2013; previously amended effective July 1, 2001, January 1, 2003, and July 1, 2003.)

(f) Form and provisions of the agreement

The agreement must be prepared and submitted on Contact After Adoption Agreement (form ADOPT-310) with appropriate attachments.

(Subd (f) amended effective January 1, 2013; previously amended effective July 1, 2001, January 1, 2003, and January 1, 2007.)

(g) Report to the court

The department or agency participating as a party or joining in the petition for adoption must submit a report to the court. The report must include a criminal record check and descriptions of all social service referrals. If a contact after adoption agreement has been submitted, the report must include a summary of the agreement and a recommendation as to whether it is in the best interest of the child.

(Subd (g) amended effective January 1, 2013; previously amended effective July 1, 2001, January 1, 2003, and July 1, 2003.)

(h) Enforcement of the agreement

The court that grants the petition for adoption and approves the contact after adoption agreement must retain jurisdiction over the agreement.

(1)Any petition for enforcement of an agreement must be filed on Request to: Enforce, Change, End Contact After Adoption Agreement (form ADOPT-315). The form must not be accepted for filing unless completed in full, with documentary evidence attached of participation in, or attempts to participate in, mediation or other dispute resolution.

(2)The court may make its determination on the petition without testimony or an evidentiary hearing and may rely solely on documentary evidence or offers of proof. The court may order compliance with the agreement only if:

(A)There is sufficient evidence of good-faith attempts to resolve the issues through mediation or other dispute resolution; and

(B)The court finds enforcement is in the best interest of the child.

(3)The court must not order investigation or evaluation of the issues raised in the petition unless the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that:

(A)The best interest of the child may be protected or advanced only by such inquiry; and

(B)The inquiry will not disturb the stability of the child's home to the child's detriment.

(4)Monetary damages must not be ordered.

(Subd (h) amended effective January 1, 2013; previously amended effective July 1, 2001, January 1, 2003, July 1, 2003, January 1, 2007.)

(i) Modification or termination of agreement

The agreement may be modified or terminated by the court. Any petition for modification or termination of an agreement must be filed on Request to: Enforce, Change, End Contact After Adoption Agreement (form ADOPT-315). The form must not be accepted for filing unless completed in full, with documentary evidence attached of participation in, or attempts to participate in, mediation or other appropriate dispute resolution.

(1)The agreement may be terminated or modified only if:

(A)All parties, including the child of 12 years or older, have signed the petition or have indicated on the Answer to Request to: Enforce, Change, End Contact After Adoption Agreement (form ADOPT-320) their consent or have executed a modified agreement filed with the petition; or

(B)The court finds all of the following:

(i)The termination or modification is necessary to serve the best interest of the child;

(ii)There has been a substantial change of circumstances since the original agreement was approved; and

(iii)The petitioner has participated in, or has attempted to participate in, mediation or appropriate dispute resolution.

(2)The court may make its determination without testimony or evidentiary hearing and may rely solely on documentary evidence or offers of proof.

(3)The court may order modification or termination without a hearing if all parties, including the child of 12 years or older, have signed the petition or have indicated on the Answer to Request to: Enforce, Change, End Contact After Adoption Agreement (form ADOPT-320) their consent or have executed a modified agreement filed with the petition.

(Subd (i) amended effective January 1, 2013; previously amended effective July 1, 2001, January 1, 2003, July 1, 2003, and January 1, 2007.)

(j) Costs and fees

The fee for filing a Request to: Enforce, Change, End Contact After Adoption Agreement (form ADOPT-315) must not exceed the fee assessed for the filing of an adoption petition. Costs and fees for mediation or other appropriate dispute resolution must be assumed by each party, with the exception of the child. All costs and fees of litigation, including any court-ordered investigation or evaluation, must be charged to the petitioner unless the court finds that a party other than the child has failed, without good cause, to comply with the approved agreement; all costs and fees must then be charged to that party.

(Subd (j) amended effective January 1, 2013; previously amended effective July 1, 2001, January 1, 2003, July 1, 2003, and January 1, 2007.)

(k) Adoption final

Once a decree of adoption has been entered, the court may not set aside the decree, rescind any relinquishment, modify or set aside any order terminating parental rights, or modify or set aside any other orders related to the granting of the adoption petition, due to the failure of any party to comply with the terms of a postadoption contact agreement or any subsequent modifications to it.

(Subd (k) amended effective January 1, 2013.)

Rule 5.451 amended and renumbered effective January 1, 2013; adopted as rule 1180 effective July 1, 1998; previously amended and renumbered as rule 5.400 effective January 1, 2003; previously amended effective July 1, 2001, July 1, 2003; and January 1, 2007.

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