Step-parent adoption is a way of consolidating an existing relationship with a child and putting it onto a secure legal footing. There are various situations in which a step-parent or partner adoption might be appropriate, including if you are raising your partner’s child from a former relationship, or if you have conceived through donation or surrogacy and the law only says that one of you is automatically a legal parent from birth.
Why should I apply for step-parent adoption?Applying for step-parent adoption will give you a lifelong connection with your child and you will be treated as if you were your child’s birth parent. You will also have parental and financial responsibility, and your child will inherit from you automatically should you die without a will.
Your partner’s legal rights and status will not be affected by your adoption order, but it will extinguish the parenthood and parental responsibility of any other parent your child has. This may not be appropriate in all circumstances and so there may be other options you wish to explore, such as acquiring parental responsibility in the first instance.
Am I eligible to apply for step-parent adoption?
There are certain requirements which you will need to meet to be eligible to apply:
- You must be over the age of 21;
- Your child must be below the age of 18 at the time of the application;
- You must be either domiciled in the UK or have been habitually resident in the UK for a year prior to the application (we can advise on your personal circumstances if you would like us to); and
- The child must have lived with you for at least six months before you make your application.
What is the process of applying for a step-parent adoption?
- Firstly, you will need to give notice (in writing) to your local authority of your intention to apply for adoption. Your local authority will subsequently appoint a social worker to investigate your case and prepare a report for the court making a recommendation as to what is in the child’s best interests.
- You will need to wait at least three months (and not more than two years) after giving notice before you apply to the court. You will need to complete a Form A58 and send this to the court with the relevant documents and the court fee.
- You will usually have one or more court hearings to determine your application, to consider whether the appropriate consents are in place and whether the order is in your child’s best interests. The process should be straightforward where everyone agrees.
- Once the adoption order is made your child’s original birth certificate will be replaced with an adoption certificate recording the correct people as the legal parents.
Who needs to consent to a step-parent adoption?
Anyone who is recognised as your child’s legal parent, provided they have parental responsibility, will need to consent to an adoption order. This always includes the birth mother, but may not include the biological father. For example, if the biological father is not named on the birth certificate and so does not have parental responsibility, his formal consent is not required to an adoption order.
Even if your child’s other parent does not have parental responsibility and their consent is not technically required, the court will investigate the circumstances carefully and may seek his/her opinion and feelings about the process since an order will permanently extinguish their status.
This blog was originally published by NGA Law.