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  • Writer's pictureAdoption NSW

Our Answers to Common Step-Parent Adoption Questions

Updated: Jul 2, 2020

Step-parent adoption may be a common adoption practice, but that doesn’t mean it’s a piece of cake. Adoption is a life-changing process and it’s a hard-hitter when it comes to emotions. Excitement? Of course. Nervousness? Maybe a bit. Confusion? Well…yeah. Big time.

When it comes to simplifying the adoption process for you and your family, we want to offer every resource we can to make your journey easier. Our DIY kits and knowledgeable legal professionals are great, but sometimes you just need a few questions answered.

ask an adoption expert

This week we’re going to dive into some step-parent FAQs.

Is it difficult?

To be honest yes — and no. Step-parent adoption in NSW is usually less of a process than other types of adoption but, like most legal things, it’s still a process. Our DIY adoption kits can make things significantly faster and easier.

How long will it take?

Every family is unique, which means time frames can vary wildly from case to case. Straightforward and uncontested cases may take only a few months, especially if the non-custodial parent gives their consent for the adoption.

What criteria do I need to meet?

There are several criteria potential adoptees need to meet in order to start the adoption process in NSW:

  • Be a resident of New South Wales

  • Be aged 21 years or more and be at least 18 years older than the child

  • Living permanently in Australia

  • Lived with your step-child for 2 years

  • Be a physically and mentally fit caregiver

Different states may require different adoption criteria. If you have any questions about NSW criteria, our legal advisors can help you understand if your case is viable and what steps you need to take next.

Who needs to give consent?

If the child is over 12 they can normally self consent depending on their capacity. If the child is under 12, anyone who has parental responsibility is asked to consent.

What happens if the non-custodial parent won’t consent?

Don’t give up hope. In the event that the non-custodial birth parent refuses to consent, the court can be asked to dispense (manage without) the consent of the other birth parent. If this is deemed to be in the child's best interests then the court will allow this.

Do I need to be married to my step-child’s biological parent?

No. You may be living together in a defect relationship. you must have lived with your step-child for a minimum of two years.

What happens if we divorce?

If you have legally adopted your step-children, there will be no legal difference between them and your biological children in the event of a divorce. You would be obligated to provide financial support and would have the right to share custody.

I already feel like a parent, why do I need to legalise it?

Good question! While you have the right to love and provide for anyone that you’d like to, there are several reasons you may want to formalise your relationship with your step-children, including:

  • To solidify your relationship with your step-child and give them a sense of belonging

  • To be involved in making decisions for your step-child regarding medical care, schooling, and other important matters

  • To be legally involved in their life even in the event of a divorce or the death of their biological parent

  • To keep them out of the custody of their non-custodial parent, if that parent is dangerous or unfit

  • To provide an inheritance for them after you are gone

  • To be named on their birth certificate

  • To share the same surname

Regardless of the specific reason behind adoption, it no doubt stems from the powerful love you have for your step-child and your desire to provide for them in whatever means you can.

What questions did you have when you started the adoption process? What advice would you give to others starting their journey? We’d love to hear from you — comment below to share your experiences.

If you find you still have questions about the adoption process, don’t hesitate to contact us today and make sure to keep an eye on our blog where we discuss all things adoption.

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