Adopting a step child

If you or your partner is a step parent, you may be concerned about the legal rights and responsibilities you have for the children in your family. There are a number of choices you have and it is important that you consider all the options and what suits your family best – before making any decision about adopting step children.

There are other options such as a parental responsibility agreement or order. Alternatively, a Court may make a Child Arrangements Order and if this Order states that a child will live with any person than that person will automatically have parental responsibility for the child.

There are a number of factors to consider – especially the views of the children and although it will depend upon their ages most children of 5years or maybe younger can be old enough for them to be told enough for them to understand what adoption will mean for them.

It is also important that you and your partner have had sufficient time to settle into your new relationship and we prefer that couples have been together for a minimum of 2 years before making any application to adopt. It is not necessary for you to be married.

Should you choose to apply to adopt you must be over 21 years of age and be a UK resident for at least one year. You must tell your local authority that you are going to adopt as it has to carry out an investigation and provide a report to Court. This needs to be at least 3 months before applying to the Court. A fee is payable to the Court when you make this application.

Once the application is made to the Court the Local Authority must carry out its investigations which will include interviewing all relevant family members and in particular any children subject of the application.