This week is National Adoption Week so we asked for your questions on the adoption process. These included queries from parents who wanted their new partner to adopt their child / children from a previous relationship. As such, Caroline Hamilton, an associate solicitor at PMC Family Law, has explored this topic in more detail.
Adoption – Some Facts
There have been 193 adoption orders granted in England and Wales from January to June 2016.
Adoption – FAQ’s
I would like my new partner to adopt my child
The first thing to bear in mind is that adoption is about what is in the best interest of the child. What adults want is relevant but the court will not consider this to be an over-riding concern when it comes to making a decision on adoption. Although it is quite natural for you to want your child to be adopted by your new partner there are some other legal alternatives to adoption that should be considered fully.
Do I have to get the other parents agreement to the adoption?
You will need agreement if:
- the other parent is the mother;
- the other parent is the father and he was married to the child’s mother;
- the other parent is the father and he has parental responsibility.
It’s worth noting that a court can dispense with the need for agreement from the other parent but there have to be very good reasons for this.
What if the other parent is the father but he was not married to the child’s mother?
His agreement is not required.
How is parental responsibility obtained?
Parental responsibility was the subject of our last vlog. You can find this on the blog section of our website.
But, in summary, parental responsibility is usually obtained by:
- obtaining a residence order from a court stating the child lives with you,
- having a parental responsibility agreement,
- being appointed guardian to care for the child if a parent dies,
- adopting the child.
Does the other parent have to be involved?
Yes. Irrespective of the birth parents legal status the court will require a report to be completed and if possible the wishes of both birth parents will be obtained, including what role they hope to play in the child’s future. Your current relationship with him or her, or the amount of contact they have with the child, will not remove the responsibility for finding out their views and reporting them to the court.
What if I do not know where the other parent is?
You will have to provide the court with all the relevant information in order for others to try to contact them. They may also be unable to do so and will complete their report stating that this is the case.
But the other parent has not been in contact with their child
This is not a reason for the social worker compiling the report not to try to ascertain their wishes in respect of any application to adopt.
But the other parent has not recently or ever paid child maintenance
This is irrelevant. The court will still need to find out their opinions on the proposed adoption.
The other parent will never agree to the adoption
The court can dispense with the need for their agreement but there has to be very good reasons for doing this. When applying for the adoption order you can make a statement of fact. You will have to give the grounds for this request. These ‘grounds’ should be one or more of the following:
- The parent or guardian cannot be found or is incapable of giving agreement;
- The parent or guardian is withholding his agreement unreasonably;
- The parent or guardian has persistently failed without reasonable cause to discharge his parental responsibility for the child;
- The parent or guardian has abandoned or neglected the child;
- The parent or guardian has persistently ill-treated the child or
- The parent or guardian has seriously ill-treated the other parent.
We hope that this vlog has been useful. For further assistance regarding the adoption process please visit our website at www.pmcfamilylaw.com or contact us on 0151 375 9968.
Alternatively, if you have questions on a family law matter why not ‘Ask the Expert’? Email your questions to and this could be the subject of our next vlog.