National Adoption Week: Adopting a Stepchild

Posted on October 8, 2020
Adopting a Stepchild

Applications to adopt a stepchild are quite common. They are often made where a parent is no longer having contact with a child and may not have played an active role in the child’s life for some time whereas a stepparent may be far more involved and often looked upon by the child as akin to a birth parent.

You need to tell your local council if you want to adopt your spouse’s or partner’s child. You must do this at least 3 months before applying to a court for an adoption order.

The child must also have lived with both of you for at least 6 months.

The adoption assessment

The process to adopt is similar to an assessment through an adoption agency.
The assessment is used to help a court decide if you can adopt the child (rather than being sent to an independent adoption panel).

The court will ask your local council to provide a report on:

  • your partner
  • the child
  • the other birth parent

The report will be prepared by a social worker and will be used to help the court make a decision.

If granted, the adoption court order gives you parental responsibility for the child – along with your spouse or partner.

The order also takes away parental responsibility from:

  • the child’s other birth parent
  • anyone else who has parental responsibility for the child

An adoption order cancels any other type of court order, such as how and when the child’s birth parent can visit the child.

Consent of the birth parent is though required if they have parental responsibility for the child and this is where some applications can become more complex and where adopters may often seek legal advice.

At Jefferies, our child law expert and specially accredited Solicitors have considerable experience of dealing with contested adoptions and can guide you through the process and potential pitfalls. If you do require advice regarding any aspect of adoption you should seek specialist advice.

Read more: Find out more about National Adoption Week.

Please do contact us if you would like further guidance and advice on legally adopting a stepchild. Contact our Family Solicitors on 01702 443 480 or email

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