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Adopting a stepchild

If you want to adopt your spouse's or partner's children so that you become their legal parent sharing parental responsibility, you must apply for step-parent adoption.

What do you need to do first?

You must tell us if you want to adopt your stepchild. You must do this in writing and at least three months before applying to a court for an adoption order. This is to make sure there is enough time to carry out an assessment, as outlined below, to support your application.

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

Contact us to discuss your family circumstances. We will explain what options are available to you and the steps involved in adopting a stepchild.

About the adoption assessment

We must provide the court with 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.

About the adoption order

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, for example, how and when the child's birth parent can visit the child.

Who can apply for an adoption order?

To apply for step-parent adoption you must:

  • be over 21
  • be married, or living with (at least two years), the birth parent
  • live in this country for at least a year
  • have been living with the child for at least six months
  • tell your council in writing about your intention to apply to a court for an Adoption Order at least three months before submitting your application

The child must be under 18 at the time of the application to the court.

Alternatives to step-parent adoption

Adoption might not be appropriate in all step-parent situations but there are alternatives to secure the child's place in your family. Contact us for more information.

Contact us
03000 269 400
Our address is:
  • Children and Young People's Services
  • Spectrum 8
  • Spectrum Business Park
  • Seaham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • SR7 7TT
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