The Ins and Outs of Step-Parent Adoption in Queensland
Becoming a step-parent is a significant change for both you and the child in question. After years of getting to know your step-daughter or step-son, it might only be natural to consider formally adopting them with the help of a family solicitor. Sometimes, step-parent adoption can prove to be a complicated process full of loops and legal jargon. If you’re considering it, always enlist the help of a licensed family lawyer.
What is a Step-Parent Adoption?
Step-parent adoption is a legal process, transferring the rights and responsibilities from a birth parent to a step-parent. Contrary to its nature, step-parent adoption is not part of the Family Law Act and instead adheres to specific territory regulations.
In Queensland, the Adoption Services Queensland (ACQ) in the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services (DOCS) oversees the process. After completing the procedure, the Children’s Court makes an adoption order.
Adopting a Child in Queensland
As a step-parent, you must first register with the ACQ, who will then assess your suitability to adopt. The suitability report enumerates a stringent list of criteria, which they present to the Children’s Court.
Seeking Permission from the Family Court
Before the adoption process commences, a step-parent and partnered biological parent must first file permission to apply with the Family Court of Queensland. The Court must then find it in the child’s best interest and take into account every factor under the Family Law Act of 1975 before clearing the application. This eligibility criteria include:
- That the step-parent is a legal adult
- That the step-parent is a resident of Queensland
- That the step-parent has lived-in with their partner (also a Queensland native and an Australian citizen) and the child in question for at least three years
- Leave from the Family Court of Australia under the Family Law Act
- That the child is at least 5-years-old and younger than 17-years-old
Consent Regarding Step-Parent Adoption
To complete a step-parent adoption, both biological parents must consent to the process. If one parent is solely responsible for the child and the second birth parent is not deceased, the Department must locate the parent, allowing them to take part in the decision-making process.
If the second parent does not consent to the adoption, they can request a parenting order for the child from the Family Courts. The Court can waive the dual consent requirement if one biological parent cannot provide it, or if the Court deems that they aren’t fit to do so.
How to Apply for a Step-Parent Adoption
After completing your application, the process moves onto assessment. The Court looks into the step-parent’s criminal history (if any), child protection history, medical history, conducts home visits, and interviews.
If you are in a same-sex partnership, the process remains virtually identical.
From application to assessment and the final application to the Children’s Court, the process can take roughly one to two years.
If you’re seeking other options outside of adoption to gain parental responsibility for a child, always consult an experienced family solicitor. The step-parent adoption process can be a lengthy one, but well worth it to provide your child with the best possible home environment.
At Springfield Legals, our family solicitors prioritise the best interests of the child, working to ensure a healthy and wholesome home. If you feel you’re ready to proceed with a step-parent adoption, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.