Post Adoption Contact Agreements (PACAs)
In Florida, Post Adoption Contact Agreements (PACAs) are agreements between the adoptive parents and someone the child has an attachment to. Some states honor PACAs in private adoptions, between birth parents and adoptive parents, but Florida enforces PACAs only when the parental rights were terminated by the Department of Children and Families.
PACAs are typically between the adoptive parents and a grandparent, sibling or other relative, and sometimes with the child’s biological parent. After the parties agree on the terms but before the adoption is finalized, the judge should be asked to incorporate the PACA into the final adoption
decree. If adoptive parents fail to honor the terms of the PACA, the agreements often require mediation before petitioning the court. The court will not overturn an adoption, but may consider whether ordering compliance or awarding attorneys fees or other sanctions may be appropriate. The reality is, the parties rarely litigate over a PACA: the standard for adoptions is openness, and in our experience families understand this and act in the best interests of the child.
The terms of post adoption contact agreements are specific to the families, but the most commonly negotiated terms are the frequency of contact, type of contact, duration of the agreement, transportation and costs if relevant, and the remedies if the parties do not visit as scheduled. The PACA may also propose solutions if the children wish for the visits to end, such as therapy or mediation.
Although PACAs in Florida must arise out of a Department of Children and Families’ case, the Department is not a party to the PACA and has no standing to seek to enforce or modify it.