Legal Corner: What rights do adopted children as adults have in - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Legal Corner: What rights do adopted children as adults have in Louisiana to opening their sealed adoption records?

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Question: What rights do adopted children as adults have in Louisiana to opening their sealed adoption records? In Tennessee, an adoptee can request the records, but in Louisiana a judge has to approve. Is this an old, outdated law?

No, it is a current and a common law. There are a small number of states that allow adoption records to be opened simply after the passage of time. Louisiana is not in that minority. In Louisiana, you need either: (1) consent of the birth parent, or (2) a court order. The court order is not easily granted. The standard required to open the records is usually “extremely good cause,” such as a medical emergency. Even then, the court may release the medical history only, not the identity of the birth parent(s). However, you can always inquire as to whether the birth parent consented to allow the records to be opened by mailing a request to:

Louisiana Adoption Voluntary Registry
P.O. Box 3318
Baton Rouge, La. 70821
or calling (225) 342-9922 to talk about the process of applying.

Question: I have 2 children, 12 and 10, who live in another state with their father. He recently decided to move to a new state, and my children would rather live here than relocate to the new state. What, if any, are their rights deciding where they can reside? Also, what, if anything, can I do legally to make sure my children’s wishes are taken into account?

Depends on where the custody decree is from. If the judgment was rendered in Calcasieu Parish, you can certainly file for a modification of custody, as the children moving to another state is certainly a material change in circumstances (the grounds required for filing a modification). Also, in Louisiana, although the children's wishes are not the sole factor in determining their domicile, when a child reaches the age of 10-12 is when the court begins to factor in the child’s wishes as part of determining domicile. If the custody decree was issued in another state, you should consult an attorney in that state about a filing a modification.

Question: I was told that if I have a boat less than 16 feet long, I must wear a life jacket at all times, not just have one on the boat for each person. Is that true? Is a throwable seat cushion still considered a life jacket?

The law has changed in the last few years. Yes, if a boat is less than 16 feet long, if steered by a hand tiller or steering arm, all occupants must now wear a personal flotation device (PFD) while the boat is underway. (It used to be you only had to have one available for each person.) If the boat is less than 26 feet, then all persons 16 years older or less must wear a PFD while underway. (The age used to be 12 years old and younger.)

No, the seat cushion type is no longer considered a PFD, and at least one is required on some boats (sometime called a “throw,” as they can be tossed to a person in the water) in addition to the traditional life jackets. You can find all the regulations at the LDWF website. Go to “boating” section – click on “Required Equipment and Regulations.”

Disclaimer: The information furnished in this answer is general and may not apply to some situations. All legal situations are unique. No one should rely to their detriment on these answers. Anyone with a potential legal problem should seek the advice of a licensed attorney before taking any action or inaction. The answers provided are not intended to be specific legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is created between the SWLA Law Center and the viewers of KPLC TV.

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