Post-Adoption Contact Between Siblings: Is "Avoidance of Harm" the Right Standard for New Jersey Siblings Adopted From Foster Care Parents?
Settlemire, Kristen L.
Seton Hall Legislative Journal
Vol. 36, No. 1 , p. 165-190
Part I of this Note discusses how states define sibling relationships and what the sibling bond entails. It shows that states often vary in how they classify siblings and that children's definitions differ markedly from state designations. Furthermore, it will describe the bond shared between siblings, one that is emotionally powerful and vitally important throughout both childhood and the duration of one's life. This bond frequently intensifies between siblings who are subject to abuse and neglect by their parents because they learn from a young age that they must rely upon their brother(s) and/or sister(s) in order to deal with their shared problems at home. Part II of this Note examines New Jersey's Child Placement Bill of Rights Act and Grandparent and Sibling Visitation Statute. It also analyzes the Troxel, Moriarty, and D.C. decisions to illustrate the different standards applied by the United States Supreme Court and the New Jersey Supreme Court in third party visitation cases. Finally, Part III evaluates the issues raised between the Troxel and D.C. inquiries and discuss two specific problems that emerge. First, applying the avoidance of harm standard in cases of sibling visitation does not give enough deference to the extensive research on the sibling bond and largely ignores the fact that the sibling relationship becomes more important for children who have been exposed to abuse and neglect by their parents. Second, the D.C. holding could chill sibling petitions for post-adoption visitation. Siblings may feel overwhelmed by the "stringent" burden that the avoidance of harm standard imposes and choose not to pursue visitation because of the grey area in current legal analysis. Because of these problems, the avoidance of harm standard is not appropriate for cases involving post-adoption sibling visitation. (Author abstract)
siblings; sibling relationships; sibling visits; sibling placement; post adoption contact; childrens rights; state laws; new jersey