The role of a step-parent is often a very important aspect of a child’s life. Unfortunately, in some instances, a step-parent plays a more active role than that of a biological parent.
Some resident parents may find themselves in situations where the non-resident parent has, what is often viewed as ‘abandoned’, the child and has no contact with the child. A step-parent may take on that parent role and seek to adopt the child. This is called a private adoption.
Within private adoptions there are two categories of who can adopt a child. The first and the most common is a couple where one of the couple is the parent of the child and the other, the step-parent. The latter is foster carers. This article will focus on the application of a step-parent.
Section 50 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 sets out the criteria of a step-parent adopting a step-child. The first aspect of the criteria is that the step-parent is over the age of 21.
The next requirement is known as the ‘Residence Requirement’. The prospective adoptive child must live with the step-parent for at least 6 months immediately preceding the proceedings.
Section 44 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 confirms that the next step is to provide a Notice of Intention to Adopt to the Local Authority of the area in which they live. This notice must be given no less than 3 months before the application is made to the Court.
The Local Authority will then ‘investigate’ and prepare a report to the Court.
The relevant application to the Court is a A58 which you can find online or at your local Family Court. The fee for this application is £183 however you may qualify for a fee reduction or exemption if you file a EX160.
The Respondents for the application is anyone that has parental responsibility for the child.
Upon filing the application with the Court, the Court will list a first hearing. At this hearing the Respondents will be asked whether they consent to this. If this is consented to then the adoption (if the Court deems this to be in the child’s best interests) will be granted. If a Respondent objects, then a Final hearing will be listed where the Court will decide whether the Respondent’s consent will be dispensed with. The Court cannot dispense with a person’s consent unless it can be proven that they cannot be found, are incapable of giving consent or that the welfare of the child requires this.
If the Order is granted, the Step-Parent will have parental responsibility for that child. The biological non-resident parent’s parental responsibility would be terminated.
If the parent is an active role in the child’s life, this application is likely to be unsuccessful.
Should you have any questions or seek further advice on this issue, please do not hesitate to contact Caitlin.firstname.lastname@example.org.