Adoption by a Partner/ Step Parent Information Sheet.
There are very many children who live within step-families. For some there will be an
occasion when it is in their best interest to be adopted by their parent’s partner. If you are
considering this option for a child you should look at your current situation, and why this might
be in the child's best interests to be changed. Remember also, that merely applying for an
adoption order could change things. For example, if the other parent of the child/ren is not
currently in contact with them, they may respond to your application for an adoption order by
renewing their contact, often temporarily, as a reaction to this. In such cases the well-being of
the child, who faces the prospect of a second parting from one of their parents in the near
future, may be harmed.
Please read all the following information to establish if you are eligible to adopt the child/ren
Frequently asked questions
I would like my new partner to adopt my child
The first issue that many adults tend to forget is that adoption is about, and for children. What
adults want is relevant but the court will not consider this to be an over-riding concern when it
comes to making a decision.
Although it is quite natural for you to feel that your family will only be complete if the child
were to be adopted by your new partner there are some who would suggest that there are
other legal alternatives to adoption that should be considered fully.
Alternatives to an Adoption Order
Parental responsibility agreement/order
Where a child's parent who has parental responsibility for the child
is married to a person who is not the child's parent (the step-
parent), or is a registered civil partner, the step-parent may acquire
If either of the child‟s parent have parental responsibility for
the child, both parents may by „parental responsibility
agreement‟ with the step-parent provide for the step-parent
to have parental responsibility for the child.
Or the court may, on the application of the step-parent, order
that the step-parent shall have parental responsibility for the
A parental responsibility agreement/order may only be brought to
an end by an order of the court made on the application:
Of any person who has parental responsibility for the child.
With the leave of the court, of the child himself. (The court
may only grant leave if it is satisfied that the child has
sufficient understanding to make the proposed application.)
(Please refer to (Step-parent) parental responsibility agreement
An unmarried or non civil registered partner can acquire parental
responsibility by a Residence Order.
The holder of a Residence Order exercises parental responsibility
jointly with other people who have PR (for example, the birth
parents). A Residence Order implies the child or children are living
with the person holding the Order. The making of a Care Order
brings a Residence Order to an end. A person holding a Residence
Order for a child can appoint a guardian in event of death only if the
person holding the Residence Order is the birth parent. On the
making of a Residence Order, a Care Order comes to an end so the
child ceases to be looked after. In a Residence Order, the child‟s
parents can retain parental responsibility, and they also retain the
right to consent, or not, to adoption. The child‟s parents can also
apply for contact with the child through the courts, or a variation of
the Residence Order. The court has the power to make a
Residence Order until the child is 18 years of age.
I have recently married my partner
You no longer need to be married to adopt the child/ren of your partner.
How long does my Partner have to have lived with the child?
The minimum period is 6 months but realistically the court would be unlikely to consider an
order until at least 12 months. In the report written by the Social Worker, the Social Worker
has to inform the court of their opinion regarding the stability of your relationship.
Do I have to get the other parents agreement to the adoption
If the other parent is the mother
You will need her agreement. A court can dispense with the need for her agreement but there
have to be very good reasons for them to do so.
If the other parent is the father.
You will need his agreement. A court can dispense with the need for his agreement but there
have to be very good reasons for them to do so.
Will the other parent have to be involved
Irrespective of the birth parents legal status the court will require a report to be compiled and
wherever possible the wishes of both birth parents will be ascertained and what role they
might intend to play in the future in respect of the child. Your current relationship with him or
her, or the amount of contact they have with the child will not remove the responsibility for
finding out their views, and reporting them back to the court.
But I do not know where the other parent is
You will have to provide the court with all the relevant information in order for others to try to
contact them. They may also be unable to do so and will complete their report stating that this
is the case.
But the other parent has not been in contact with their child
This is not a reason for the social worker compiling the report not to try to ascertain their
wishes in respect of any application to adopt.
But the other parent has not recently / never paid child maintenance
This is irrelevant. The court will still need to find out their opinions on the proposed adoption.
The other parent will never agree to the adoption
The court can dispense with the need for their agreement but there have to be very good
reasons for doing so. When applying for the adoption order you can make a statement of fact
on the Page 3. Here you will have to give the grounds for this request. These 'grounds' should
be one or more of the following:
* The parent or guardian cannot be found or is incapable of giving agreement;
* The parent or guardian is withholding his agreement unreasonably;
* The parent or guardian has persistently failed without reasonable cause to discharge his
parental responsibility for the child;
* The parent or guardian has abandoned or neglected the child;
* The parent or guardian has persistently ill-treated the child or
* The parent or guardian has seriously ill-treated the child.
The information you enter here should not contain your opinion, it should be completely
factual and wherever possible this information should be able to be confirmed by others
After reading this information if you decide to continue you must complete a Formal Notice
Form (one should be enclosed with this document).
Upon receipt of this notice you will be contacted by a Social Worker to arrange to visit you in
The Social Worker will want to see both partners and will initially wish to make sure you
understand the information included on this sheet.
The Social Worker will want to begin gathering information for completion of a report ( Annexe
A Report) that will be requested by the court when you make your application to adopt.
The Annexe A Report: This is a report to court where there has been an application
for an Adoption Order and it is the responsibility of the Adoption Social Worker to complete.
This report sets out information about:
the child‟s parent(s)
relationships, contact arrangements and views
the prospective adopter(s)
a summary of the authority‟s actions
And the agency‟s recommendations with respect to the making of an Adoption Order
and future contact arrangements.
Statutory Checks and other information
The local authority must obtain an enhanced CRB ( criminal records) check for
the applicant and other members of the household over the age of 18years. (The
Local authority (Adoption) (Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 2005.). The
Social Worker will ask you to complete an application form regarding this check.
The Social worker will also want to obtain information regarding the following
You will be asked to sign a consent form regarding these checks.
You will also be asked to sign a statement about your general health or be asked to obtain a
medical report from your GP.
Issues to be addressed
Issues related to the child:
Does s/he consent to the adoption with a full understanding of the implications?
If the child is not of the appropriate age/understanding, what is their understanding of the
What are the child‟s views on contact with the absent parent and/ or the absent parent‟s
Issues related to the parent/ applicant:
What is hoped to achieve by the adoption?
Is there a clear understanding of adoption and the other options that are available ?
Is there a commitment to openness about this application?
Has the child been told the child? If not, is advice/ help needed in doing so?
Have the views of the other children in the step-family been ascertained?
What are the plans with regard to contact with the absent parent and the absent parent‟s
If the application is for more than 1 child in the family, each child will be dealt with
Lodging an application to adopt, fees/costs
It is the responsibility of the “Step Parent” to lodge an application to adopt with the court.
This can only be done after three months have elapsed since the completion of the Formal
Notice mentioned above. The court will expect evidence of this notice to be available.
The Application Form can be obtained on line in a PDF format and the Social Worker will
advise you how to access one and will also assist in completion if required.
Upon completion the application should be lodged with the local family court (In Liverpool
this is in City Square, Vernon Street, Liverpool 1) with a Fee of £140.00 per child payable
by the applicant.
If all parties i.e. both birth parents, child etc agree then there is often no need to instruct a
legal representative. All situations are different, however, and applicants should be aware
that a contested adoption can cost between £3000 and £5000.
This information is provided to help you in your decision making, should you have any
more questions please do not hesitate to contact the Adoption Duty Officer on