A step-parent can apply for an adoption order for a child they live with and wish to adopt if they meet the criteria for this. An adoption order is permanent and cannot be revoked. A new birth certificate is issued and all legal ties with the non-resident birth parent are severed.
Decisions like this can be difficult for all those involved, particularly the child who may feel cut off from a part of their birth history or feel that they are losing connection with an important part of their former life.
It may be that it is more appropriate for the new family unit to enter into a formal parental responsibility agreement, by applying to the court for a residence agreement or parental responsibility order. These orders have the benefit of enabling a child to maintain links and relationships with a birth parent and wider family, which may be in their best interests in the longer term. Alongside this, they also enable the step parent to be involved in the important decisions of the family unit and make important caring decisions for a child they live with.
Is Step-parent adoption right for your family?
If you would like to find out more about step parent adoption or discuss whether this is the right option for your family please get in touch. Hampshire’s Adoption duty team will talk through your personal situation and make a recommendation about what may be best for your family, with the child’s interests at the heart of the recommendation.
Criteria for step-parent adoption
- The legal criteria for requesting a step parent adoption state that the applicant (step parent) must be 21 years old or over and either married to or living with the resident birth parent in “an enduring family relationship” - in Hampshire we take this to mean relationships of three years or more.
- You must also have been living in the British Isles or have been habitually resident for at least a year, and must have lived continually with the child for at least three years.
- In Hampshire we expect all children involved in a step parent adoption assessment to be over the age of 7 years, unless there are exceptional circumstances. This is because we believe it is important that a child is able to express their opinion about what they want to happen to them, and understand their birth story.
- Children need to be under the age of 18 to be adopted but the court can make an order up to the child’s 19th birthday.
Step-parent adoption assessment
If you do decide to apply for a step parent adoption and you live in Hampshire, Hampshire County Council’s Adoption Service will need to investigate the full circumstances of the family and prepare a report to the court of their findings. This enables the courts to make their decision, based on the best interests of the child.
You need to tell us at least three months before you plan to apply for an order.
Find out more about Adoption
Tel: 0845 6035620