Adopting a Step-Child in Queensland

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Adopting a step-child in Queensland is a serious decision and is regulated by the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), and the Adoption Act 2009 (Qld). The adoption creates a relationship with a ‘legal status’ and is the final legal step that permanently breaks the legal relationship between the child and their non-custodial parent.

How does the law determine a “step-parent”? We look at the Adoption Act 2009 (Qld), which determines that a “step-parent” must:

  • Be over 18 years of age;
  • Reside in Queensland   Be an Australian citizen (or the spouse of an Australian citizen);
  • Be married to the child’s custodial parent;
  • Be in a heterosexual relationship with the child’s custodial parent; and
  • Have resided with the child and the child’s custodial parent for a period no less than 3 years.

There are certain conditions regarding the adoption of a “step-child”. To be able to adopt a “step-child” the child must be at least 5 years old, but not more than 17 years old.

It is a serious decision to adopt a step-child and the step-parent must seek the leave of the Family Court to make an application for adoption.

This means that the parent must seek the Court’s permission to make an application to adopt the step-child. The order of the Court granting leave must accompany the application.

For the adoption to be successful, both the child’s biological mother and father must approve the adoption without the recommendation of Adoption Services.

There are however legal and social consequences on the relationship between the child and their non-custodial parent and for this reason applications for adoption of a step-child are not often granted.

If you are considering an adoption, bear in mind that adoption is not the only way to give legal effect to your relationship with your step-child.

An easier and more accepted method is to apply to the court to make a parenting order instead. A parenting order will preserve the legal relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent and also give the step-parent parental responsibility for the child. In this case, the parenting order gives the relationship the desired legal status without requiring an application to be made for adoption.

Are you considering adopting a step-child in Queensland? Contact us

If you would like to know more about adopting a step-child in Queensland, please contact our Business Development Officers on 07 3252 0011 to arrange a consultation with one of our Brisbane Family Lawyers.