Q: After Adoption is finalized. Can Grandparents of the deceased biological parents sue for visitation rights?
A: An adoption severs all ties with the parent and their relatives. See Section (a)(1) below.
Ark. Code Ann. Section 9-9-215. Effect of decree of adoption.
(a) A final decree of adoption and an interlocutory decree of adoption which has become final, whether issued by a court of this state or of any other place, have the following effect as to matters within the jurisdiction or before a court of this state:
(1) Except with respect to a spouse of the petitioner and relatives of the spouse, to relieve the biological parents of the adopted individual of all parental rights and responsibilities, and to terminate all legal relationships between the adopted individual and his or her biological relatives, including his or her biological parents, so that the adopted individual thereafter is a stranger to his or her former relatives for all purposes. This includes inheritance and the interpretation or construction of documents, statutes, and instruments, whether executed before or after the adoption is decreed, which do not expressly include the individual by name or by some designation not based on a parent and child or blood relationship. However, in cases where a biological or adoptive parent dies before a petition for adoption has been filed by a step-parent of the minor to be adopted the court may grant visitation rights to the parents of the deceased biological or adoptive parent of the child if such parents of the deceased biological or adoptive parent had a close relationship with the child prior to the filing of a petition for step-parent adoption, and if such visitation rights are in the best interests of the child. The foregoing provision shall not apply to the parents of a deceased putative father who has not legally established his paternity prior to the filing of a petition for adoption by a step-parent. For the purposes of this section, "step-parent" means an individual who is the spouse or surviving spouse of the biological or adoptive parent of a child but who is not a biological or adoptive parent of the child.
(2) To create the relationship of parent and child between petitioner and the adopted individual, as if the adopted individual were a legitimate blood descendant of the petitioner, for all purposes including inheritance and applicability of statutes, documents, and instruments, whether executed before or after the adoption is decreed, which do not expressly exclude an adopted individual from their operation or effect.
(b) An interlocutory decree of adoption, while it is in force, has the same legal effect as a final decree of adoption. If an interlocutory decree of adoption is vacated, it shall be as though void from its issuance, and the rights, liabilities, and status of all affected persons which have not become vested shall be governed accordingly.
(c) Sibling visitation shall not terminate if the adopted child was in the custody of the Department of Human Services and had a sibling who was not adopted by the same family and before adoption the circuit court in the juvenile dependency-neglect or families in need of services case has determined that it is in the best interests of the siblings to continue visitation and has ordered visitation between the siblings to continue after the adoption.
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