Step-parent adoption

In exceptional circumstances a step-parent can apply for an Adoption Order for a child they live with where the welfare of the child requires it and no other order would secure this.

An adoption order is permanent and cannot be revoked. These are not made lightly by the courts and social workers will need to evidence why no other order would suffice.

All legal ties with the non-resident birth parent are severed. For this reason, birth parents’ views will be sought and taken into account as part of the assessment process. This applies even if the birth parent is not named on the birth certificate and has not had contact with the child in many years.

There are alternatives to step-parent adoption which may more appropriately secure a child’s place in your family. For example, a step-parent who is married to the resident parent can gain Parental Responsibility (PR) by entering into a formal agreement with all those who hold Parental Responsibility, the child’s name can be changed by deed poll, or by applying to the court for a Parental Responsibility Order or a Child Arrangement Order.

Criteria for step-parent adoption

  • You must be 21 years old or over and either married to or living with the resident birth parent in “an enduring family relationship” – in Southampton we take this to mean relationships of three years or more
  • You must also have been living in the British Isles or have been habitually resident for at least a year, and must have lived continually with the child for at least three years
  • We expect all children to be involved in a step-parent adoption assessment where possible. This is because we believe it is important that a child is able to express their opinion about what they want to happen to them, and understand their birth story
  • Children need to be under the age of 18 to be adopted, but the court can make an order up to the child’s 19th birthday
  • Anyone with parental responsibility has to be in agreement

We recommend that step-parents thinking of adoption seek legal advice from a solicitor who specialises in children and family law in the first instance.

The process

All step-parent adoption orders involve an in depth assessment by a social worker from the local authority. If you live in Southampton, a social worker from Southampton connected carers team will need to assess the full circumstances of your family and prepare a report for court. The court will need to be provided with evidence that no other order will be sufficient in securing a child’s welfare in order to grant a step-parent adoption order.

Contact us

Please contact our specialist Step Parent Adoption Social Worker:

Wednesday: 8.30am to 4.30pm