Step parent adoption in Qld is organised through Adoption Services Queensland. Adopting a step child is a legal process whereby a step parent becomes the permanent adoptive parent of their spouse’s child/children. It is a very serious decision that the courts do not take lightly and can be a complex process. We are going to break down the process of adopting a step child in Queensland.
Who is Eligible?
Step parent adoption is mostly regulated by the Adoption Act 2009 (Qld). Under section 92 of the act, to be eligible to adopt a step child, the step parent must:
- Be the spouse of the parent of the child;
- Have resided with the spouse and child for at least 3 years;
- Have obtained leave under the Family Law Act 1975 (Section 60G);
- Be over the age of 18;
- Be an Australian citizen (or the spouse must be an Australian citizen);
- Reside in Queensland; and
- Be adopting a child that is at least 5 years old and has not yet turned 17.
Due to the seriousness of the decision to adopt a step child, section 60G of the Family Law Act 1975 states that the Family Court must grant leave for adoption proceedings to commence. This means that the step parent must seek the Court’s permission to make an application to adopt the step child, and the Court must consider the child’s best interests before making the decision.
Consent for Adoption
Before the application for step parent adoption can be assessed in Qld, both parents of the child must consent the adoption. This means that the child’s non-custodial parent must also agree to the step parent adoption.
The Application Process
These applications are carefully assessed by Adoption Services. Adoption Services outline potentially required information for the assessment including:
- Criminal or domestic violence history
- Information about the step parent’s health
- Home visits for assessment interviews
- Talking with the step parent, spouse, children and any other nominated referees.
The step parent must pay an assessment fee before their suitability can be assessed. Once their suitability is approved, Adoption Services will prepare and create a suitability report for the Children’s Court of Queensland.
Is Adoption Necessary?
As previously mentioned, step parent adoption in Qld is a very serious, permanent legal process and decisions are not taken lightly.
Many custodial and non-custodial birth parents build caring and legally-secure relationships without going through the official adoption process.
These relationships might be formalised through legally changing the child’s last name, securing their inheritance rights (for example, parents or grandparents can make provisions in their wills to ensure the child has the right to their future inheritance ), or parenting orders.
A parenting order preserves the legal relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent, but it will also provide the step parent with responsibility for that child.
Adoption is a permanent order, whereas a Parenting Order can be changed, either through an agreement between the parents or a court order.
After Legal Advice For Step Parent Adoption in Qld?
If you would like to know more about step parent adoption in Qld and how to begin the process, our team of family lawyers can assist you. To speak to a lawyer about your current situation, call us on (07) 3211 4920.