Adopting a Step-Child in Queensland

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Adopting a step-child in Queensland is regulated by the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), and the Adoption Act 2009 (Qld). Adoption creates a relationship with a ‘legal status’.

It is considered to be a serious decision as it is the final legal step that permanently breaks the legal relationship between the child and their non-custodial parent.

According to the Adoption Act 2009 (Qld), 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.

To adopt a “step-child” they must be at least 5 years old, but not more than 17 years old.

Because of the seriousness of the decision to adopt a step-child, 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.

Both the child’s biological mother and father must also approve the adoption for it to be successful without the recommendation of Adoption Services.

Because of the legal and social consequences on the relationship between the chid and their non-custodial parent, applications for adoption of a step-child are not often granted.

However, 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 have the effect of preserving the legal relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent, but also give the step-parent parental responsibility for the child. The making of a 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.