The full President's Guidance of March 2006 on Adoption: The New Law and Procedure (the Guidance) will be published in  FLR and will be available in the fast reporting section of the Family Law Reports online shortly. If you do not already subscribe to Family Law Reports online, but wish to do so, please call 0117 918 1555.
The Guidance is 12 pages long and should be applied to all placement applications and adoption applications issued after 30 December 2005. The Adoption and Children Act 2002 Act (the 2002 Act) reforms the law on adoption and the Family Procedure (Adoption) Rules 2005 overhaul adoption procedure. The Guidance was issued in March 2006 by the President of the Family Division, Sir Mark Potter, with the approval of the Lord Chancellor. Its aim is to provide an outline of the key changes to the law relating to domestic adoptions as a compass to guide all court users through the new reforms affecting the court process.
The Guidance outlines the following as the principal reforms in the 2002 Act:
- (i) It aligns adoption law with the Children Act 1989 by making the child's welfare the paramount consideration in all decisions relating to adoption;
- (ii) It provides a new welfare based ground for dispensing with parental consent;
- (iii) It abolishes freeing for adoption orders and provides new measures for placement for adoption either with parental consent or under a placement order;
- (iv) It overhauls eligibility to apply for adoption orders by enabling single persons, married couples and, for the first time, unmarried couples to apply;
- (v) It strengthens the restrictions on arranging adoptions and advertising children for adoption other than through adoption agencies and introduces a new restriction relating to reports;
- (vi) It widens the range of options for providing permanence for children by amending the Children Act 1989 to introduce a new special guardianship order.
The Guidance provides detail on:
- the mandatory considerations relating to welfare for the court or adoption agency to take into account whenever coming to a decision relating to the adoption of a child.
- the legal process for placing children for adoption either (1) where there is the consent of the parent or (2) where there is no parental consent, under a placement order.
- the requirements for obtaining an adoption order.
- contact, name changing and removing the child from the UK.
- the overriding objective of the Family Procedure (Adoption) Rules 2005.
- the relevant forms to apply for (1) an adoption order and (2) consent to making an adoption order.
- what the court or court officer will ask an adoption agency to do as soon as practicable after issue where the child is placed for adoption by an adoption agency.
- website sources for the 2002 Act and the Family Procedure (Adoption) Rules 2005.