Family Law

Family Law News 2017, Issue 3, Volume 39, No. 3

MCLE Article: What is a PACA?

John Nieman

Check the end of this article for information on how to access 1 hour of Legal Specialization in Family Law and 1 hour of general self-study credits.

Juvenile Dependency Courts frequently must choose a permanent plan for children outside of their parents’ home(s). This is usually a last resort after exhaustion of all options to prevent removal and all reasonable efforts to return children to their parents. The law strongly prefers adoption when children need a permanent home outside that of their parents, because it is the most secure and the most permanent.

California law recognizes that it may be in the best interest of some children to continue to have contact with certain members of their birth family even after they are adopted. To have that continued contact, the prospective adoptive parents, birth relatives, or sibling care providers can enter into an agreement called a Postadoption Contact Agreement ("PACA"). PACAs can only include continued contact for adopted children with their siblings, birth parents, grandparents and other relatives. PACAs can include some, all, or none of these birth family members; agreements with birth relatives who don’t have a pre-existing relationship with the child can only include information exchange, not visitation. Except for these limitations, PACAs can reflect as much or as little contact as the parties decide. There is neither a minimum nor maximum amount of contact, information sharing, and/or visitation permitted. Any type of contact, which can range from an annual letter to unsupervised overnight visits, and any combination of contact types, can be included in the agreement.

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