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Adoption Law is complex and there are a number of different Orders that can be made.

Adopting a step-child

If you live in England or Wales and are applying to adopt your spouse or partner’s child, you need to inform your local council. You must do this at least three months before starting your adoption application with the court.

Once you have notified your council, a social worker will be allocated as soon as possible to visit you. They have a legal duty to supervise all children for whom there is an adoption application pending.

The social worker will, at this stage, wish to discuss your understanding of the implications of adoption, the alternatives to an adoption application and the child’s understanding of their family relationships.  Your social worker is required to interview the absent birth parent and any significant relatives on his/her side of the family.

The social worker may wish to approach the child’s school as part of their enquiries.   The social worker may ask you and your partner to give consent to an enhanced police check and it is likely that they will also check their own records as part of their enquiries.  It may be that following the enquiries by the social worker, a decision is made not to proceed with an application for an Adoption Order.   

Once this Adoption assessment is complete, the report will be considered by the court who will make a decision.  If an order is granted it will give the step-parent parental responsibility for the child.  It also takes parental responsibility away from the child's other birth parent and anyone else who has parental responsibility for the child.  An adoption order also cancels any other order in relation to the child.

In many cases, the step-parent requires Parental Responsibility for their partner’s child and this can be achieved if all parents consent by completing a Step-Parent Parental Responsibility Agreement or alternatively, an application can be made to the court.   By acquiring Parental Responsibility in this way, this has the advantage of not removing Parental Responsibility from the other birth parent, and it also means that the child is not legally separated from membership of the other birth parent’s family.

If you do decide to apply for an Adoption Order, at the first hearing the court may ask for a detailed report.

The court may decide to make:-

  • an Adoption Order 
  • a Parental Responsibility Order
  • a Child Arrangements Order
  • A Special Guardianship Order

Adopting a child in the UK   

Complex rules govern eligibility to apply for an Order to adopt a child in the UK.  Assuming that you are eligible, our experienced family team will assist you.  The court’s decision about the next step will depend on the details of your application.

Adopting a child from overseas (also known as an inter country adoption)

Complex rules and regulations apply. An inter-country adoption is allowed in circumstances where a child cannot be cared for in a safe environment in their own country, the adoption would be in the best interests of the child and would not affect their internationally recognised human rights and the adopter has been assessed as eligible and suitable to adopt from overseas by an Adoption Agency in the UK.  Assuming that you are eligible to apply for an Order, our family and divorce lawyers can assist you.

Local Authority Adoption

This is when the Local Authority decides to make an application to adopt your child. You may or may not be eligible for public funding (Legal Aid) and you will need to contact our family team to discuss your options.

For further information, please contact one of our divorce and family lawyers below:

Swati Somaiya
Direct Dial 0116 242 1255
Mobile 07739 507 532
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Dawn Salter
Direct Dial 0116 242 1297
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