A step-parent may wish to adopt a child to provide the child with a safe and secure family unit to ensure the child feels part of the family especially if the birth parent is absent.

It is important that this has been carefully considered by the parents as the adoption will mean the step parent will obtain parental responsibility for the child and the child will be provided with a new birth certificate naming the step-parent as father. This remains the case even if the parties separate in the future.

In order for a step parent to make an application to adopt a child they must have been residing with the birth parent for longer than 6 months and will undergo an assessment from the Local Authority.

The parties must inform the Local Authority 3 months prior to the application being made to the Court to allow the time for the assessment to be undertaken and a report to be prepared.

The Court will consider the application and the assessment from the Local Authority to ensure the adoption is in the best interest of the child. An adoption will mean that the other birth parent is no longer recognised as having any parental responsibility for the child.

The birth parent’s consent must be obtained prior to the application being made. If the other birth parent does not agree to the adoption then this may result in a contested hearing.

There are alternatives to applying for an adoption such as a parental responsibility agreement or order or a child arrangements order that the child lives with the parties.

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