• November 2014
  • Vol. 15, No. 10

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Postadoption Sibling Contact in New Jersey

State law in New Jersey makes no provision for postadoption contact agreements between adoptive and birth families, so contact between an adopted child and his or her birth siblings is left to the discretion of the adoptive parents. A recent article published in the journal Law School Student Scholarship examines New Jersey State case law and Federal case law to make the argument that children in the New Jersey foster care system who have an established relationship with their siblings have the right to continued contact after adoption.

For example, current statutes in New Jersey establishes a child's right to be placed in the same home with his or her siblings or have continued visits if they need to be placed in separate homes or programs. In a recent New Jersey Supreme Court case, the court found that termination of the parents' parental rights does not in itself justify terminating day-to-day sibling contact. In fact, the court noted that the State continues to have an affirmative obligation to nurture sibling bonds, whether or not their parents' parental rights have been terminated.

After reviewing other State and Federal court opinions, the author concludes that additional State legislation is needed to strike a balance between the needs of adopted children to maintain precious sibling bonds and to safeguard the legal autonomy of adoptive parents. Law School Student Scholarship is an e-journal published by Seton Hall University.

"Siblings' Rights to Visitation Post-Adoption," by Esther Denise Meza, Law School Student Scholarship, is available here:

http://scholarship.shu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1529&context=student_scholarship (476 KB)

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