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Due to essential maintenance, the following systems will be unavailable from 6.00pm on Monday 2 October until 8.00am on Tuesday 3 October: our online council tax, business rates and housing benefit services, and our welfare assistance form. You will also not be able to register to pay council tax online, make a change of address for council tax or cancel single person discount. You are still able to make a payment during this time. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Adopting family members

If you want to adopt your stepchild we can offer you advice and support.

Adopting a stepchild

If you want to adopt your stepchild so that you become their legal parent and share parental responsibility with your spouse/partner you can apply for stepparent adoption. The child must be under 18 at the time of the application to the court.

To adopt your stepchild you must:

  • be over 21
  • be married to, or living with (for at least two years), the birth parent
  • have lived in this country for at least a year
  • have been living with your stepchild for at least six months
  • inform the child's other birth parent of your plans

To start the process, you must tell us in writing that you want to adopt with the following details:

  • Full names and dates of birth of everyone in your household
  • Your address, email address and telephone number
  • How long you have been in a relationship with the child's parent and that you live in the same house with the child you want to adopt
  • Whether there are any other children who live elsewhere
    • If yes, please provide their details and where they live/who they live with
  • Whether you have the contact details for the other parent, and whether they have parental responsibility
  • Whether the child is aware they have another parent / family living elsewhere
  • Why you want to adopt

You and your partner must both sign the letter, scan or take a photograph of it and email it to  

Find out more about the assessment process at Adopting your stepchild - the process.

Adopting another member of your family

If you want to adopt another member of your family, different rules apply. For instance, they must have lived with you for at least three years unless you are their foster carer. You must live in County Durham and you will need consent from the child's birth parent/s. There are other legal orders that you could apply for that do not change the child's identity like adoption does. If you are related to the child, you should consider applying for a Special Guardianship Order rather than adoption.

You may want to take legal advice from a solicitor who specialises in family law before making enquiries with us. However, you could contact us if you do want advice.