Step-parent adoption

brother and sisterYou can apply to adopt your partner's legal children, for example if your partner already has children, or if you have conceived a child together but the law does not recognise you as a legal parent.  You and your partner do not need to be married or in a civil partnership, but you must be living as partners in an enduring family relationship.

Adoption will give you a lifelong connection with your child, including:

  • Parental responsibility -  you will share decision-making about your child
  • Financial responsibility - you will have a duty to provide for your child, including paying child maintenance if you do not live with them
  • Inheritance rights - your child will inherit from you if you die without a will
  • British nationality - you can transmit your British nationality to your child in most cases.

A partner/step-parent adoption order will not affect your partner's legal rights and status.  However, it will permanently extinguish the parenthood of any other parent your child has.  If this means that step-parent adoption is not appropriate, you may want to think about acquiring parental responsibility instead.

How do we apply?
You must first give notice in writing to your local authority of your intention to apply for adoption.  You then apply for adoption by completing Form A58 and sending it to the family court with the relevant documents and court fee.  You must wait at least three months (and not more than two years) after giving your notice to the local authority before you apply to court, and you must have lived with your child for at least six months.

The process is usually straightforward where everyone agrees.  Your local authority will appoint a social worker to investigate the case and prepare a report for the court making a recommendation as to what is in the child's best interests.  The court will list one or more hearings to determine your application.

Who else has to be involved?
If your child has another legal parent who has parental responsibility, his or her consent is required to an adoption order (although in exceptional cases this can be waived if this is in the child's best interests).   If your child's other parent does not have parental responsibility, his or her consent is not required.  However, the court will investigate the circumstances carefully since an adoption order will permanently extinguish the other parent's legal status.