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Step Parent Adoption

You may be in a situation where you are considering step-parent adoption. Our experienced team of family law specialists understand the emotional and sensitive issues that may arise surrounding step-parent adoptions in Queensland. We can help you make informed decisions by providing reliable and considered legal advice.

Reasons for step-parent adoption

Step-parent adoption could be considered where:

  • the child’s other birth parent has died;
  • the child’s other birth parent has been absent for many years and  you want to ensure the child can remain with you should the birth parent die;
  • the parents (or the child) wish to change the child’s surname to your; or
  • the child has expressed a wish for adoption.

Everything you need to know about step-parent adoption

Yes. If you are married or a de facto spouse of one of the child’s parents, you can apply to adopt the child if:
  • you have lived with the child and their birth parent for at least three years continuously;
  • you are an adult who is residing in Queensland, and are an Australian citizen (or the spouse or partner of an Australian citizen);
  • you have been granted leave by the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (“the Court) to commence adoption proceedings; and
  • the child is older than 5 years and younger than 17 years

An application in relation to a child who has turned 17 but is not yet 18 may be accepted in some circumstances, only if Adoption and Permanent Care Services (APCS) are satisfied that there is enough time to complete the process. It needs to be complete before the child turns 18, and the grounds for making an adoption order are likely to exist.

An application for leave will be heard in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. Both you and the birth parent (your partner) should be applicants in this application.

When the Court is determining whether it should grant leave, it must consider whether granting leave would be in the child’s “best interests”. These factors are set out in the Family Law Act. In addition, the court must consider the effect of the adoption on the other birth parent’s parental responsibility, and any current parenting order.

Once the Court grants leave, an application is made to Adoption Services Queensland (ASQ). Under that Adoption Act, APCS has an extensive list of criteria to consider before issuing a suitability report. The suitability report is then presented to the Children’s Court for a final adoption order to be made. Usually, the consent of both birth parents (if living) to the adoption is required.

The step-parent adoption process can be a lengthy process, so it is important you know your rights and responsibilities prior to commencing an adoption application by seeking specialised legal advice.

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