By its nature, family law practice is, in the vast majority, about families in conflict. Whether it be about financial separation or parenting arrangements, parties to family law disputes are going through a very difficult and emotionally taxing time.
However, there are, from time to time, matters that are about the construction of family units and about legally unifying informal care arrangements.
Marino Law Partner and Accredited Specialist in Family Law, Abbi Golightly today assisted a family in achieving that dream of legal recognition of their family arrangements, by way of a Step-Parent Adoption Order being made.
After raising his step-daughter as his own for 10 years and treating her for all intents and purposes as his own child, our client approached us in January 2017 seeking assistance to formalise their relationship. Complicating the matter was the fact that his step-daughter had just turned 17, meaning that the time frame was going to be a massive hurdle.
Step-parent adoptions involve multiple steps, commencing with an Application to the Family Court of Australia for leave to commence Adoption proceedings in the Children’s Court. Section 60G of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) provides that the Family Court can grant leave for proceedings to be commenced for the adoption of a child by a prescribed adopting parent, including a step-parent. In considering whether to grant leave, the Family Court must have consideration as to whether the leave would be in the child’s best interests.
After successfully obtaining leave in the Family Court of Australia, an Application to adopt a step child is lodged with Adoption Services (part of the Department of Communities in Queensland). The consent of both birth parents needs to be obtained and failing that consent being given, an Application is required to the Children’s Court seeking an Order to dispense with the requirement to have the consent of the relevant parent.
Upon the issuing consent being resolved, Adoption Services undertakes a rigorous assessment of the family unit including undertaking criminal, domestic violence, traffic and child protection history checks. Home visits and interviews are undertaken as well as mandatory counselling. Upon satisfaction of each of the assessments Adoption Services issues a Suitability Report for use in the final stages of the proceedings.
Upon the Suitability Report being received, the Step-Parent joins with their spouse in making an Application for an Adoption Order in the Children’s Court of Queensland. The Children’s Court is required to be satisfied that not only is the step-parent a suitable person, but that the making of an Order is more beneficial to the child than an Order being made under the Family Law Act and that there are exceptional circumstances for the making of an Adoption Order.
Upon the Court being satisfied of these matters, an Adoption Order will issue, enabling the child adopted to apply for and receive a Queensland birth certificate with their new parentage noted thereon.
Happily for our client, each of these issues was resolved in his favour and Orders and their family unit now legally included his almost 18 year old step daughter, a cause for much celebration.
Issues such as step-parent adoption Applications are unique and require expert knowledge. The team at Marino Law are available to provide you with such knowledge and assist you in the process of your step-parent adoption Application and all other aspects of Family Law.