Can my partner adopt my child without the biological father's consent?
Whether your partner can adopt your child without the biological father’s consent depends on whether the biological father has parental responsibility. If the biological father has parental responsibility, they must consent to the adoption first. If they don't have parental responsibility, they will not be asked to consent.
A father has parental responsibility over a child if he was married to the child’s mother at the time of birth or if he is named on the birth certificate. Therefore, if you were never married to your child’s biological father or he is not listed on the birth certificate, he does not have parental responsibility, and his consent is not required before an adoption order is made.
However, even if your child’s biological father does not have parental responsibility, the court may still ask for his opinion if he is involved in the child’s life because an adoption order will terminate his parental rights.
A court can decide to make an adoption order without the consent of your child’s biological father if he cannot be found, he is unable to give consent perhaps because of a mental illness, or the child would be at risk if they were not adopted.
What is the process for adopting a stepchild?
To be able to adopt your stepchild, you must be over the age of 21 years, and the child must be under the age of 18 at the time the application is made. If you are not married to the child's parent, you must demonstrate to the court that both of you have been living together as partners in a long-term relationship for at least two years. Also, the child must have lived with you and your spouse or partner for at least six months before applying for an adoption order.
If you want to adopt your spouse's or partner's child, you must notify your local council in writing about your intention to adopt. Your local council will appoint a social worker to investigate your case and will prepare a court report recommending what is best for the child. You must notify your local council at least three months before filing an application with the court.
The court must make the best decision for the child and determine whether the biological parents consent to the adoption. If both biological parents have parental responsibility over the child, the court will appoint an officer from the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) to interview them and witness their formal written consent. If a parent with parental responsibility disagrees with your application, the court will appoint a CAFCASS officer as the child's guardian to speak on behalf of the child and ensure that the court is aware of the child's wishes as well as those of all relatives before issuing the order. The child's guardian will also include their own recommendations in their report.
If the court believes that the adoption is in the best interests of the child, it can issue an adoption order, granting you parental responsibility for the child and the same rights as a parent. When the adoption order is made, the child's original birth certificate will be replaced with an adoption certificate.
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