If you are a stepfamily it is understandable that you may want to share all the rights you both have in relation to the children in your family. Partner (Step-Parent) Adoption is a way in which you can become the legal parent of your partner’s child / children from a previous marriage or relationship. This can help to provide security for a child within your family. However it is important to consider whether this is the right course of action for your child. Partner adoption will permanently remove the legal ties that the child has with their absent birth parent.
There are alternatives to step parent adoption which can provide legal security for a child, and provide legal parental responsibility for a partner or step parent and this may be more appropriate for your family situation.
Parental Responsibility Order
If a step parent is married to or has entered into a civil partnership with the parent of the child they may acquire parental responsibility. If there is no dispute with the child's other parent this can sometimes be done without the need for a court order through the drawing up of a simple agreement. Even if there isn’t an agreement the court can decide it is right to make an order giving the stepparent parental responsibility.
A residence order can be made by a court even if the step parent is not married or civilly registered to the parent of the child. The residence order settles the arrangements of who the child will live with and gives the step parent or partner parental responsibility in addition to the birth parents.
Changing a child's surname
Changing a child’s surname can be done in other ways other than adoption, if you would like to consider this please speak with a solicitor for advice.
Who Can Apply
The enquiry to adopt should be made by the partner of the birth parent. But you will need to meet the following criteria.
- Applicant must be 21 or over
- The applicant needs to have been resident in the UK for at least a year
- The child has been continually living with the step parent for at least 6 months
- The child is aged under 18 when the application is made.
- The applicant must either be married or be in an “enduring family relationship” with the resident birth parent.
The local authority will investigate your suitability to adopt and the appropriateness of adoption for the child on behalf of the court and a report will be prepared explaining the circumstances of the adoption application. You will need to give the local authority at least three months written notice of your intention to apply to court. An application will need to be made to court (fee will be applicable). The court will then consider your application and make a decision as to whether adoption is in the child’s best interest.
How to apply
Making an adoption application is a big step and decisions made will affect the rest of a child’s life so it is important that you take your own legal advice and discuss this with someone who is a professional in adoption. For further advice please contact our Council Contact Centre on 0845 140 0845.
Further advice and information for Partner Adoption can be found at the Family Lives Website.
Parentline - 0808 800 2222
Central Office Team - 020 7553 3080