Adopting a stepchild in Queensland (QLD) is a wonderful way to build a family. When a person marries someone who already has children, they may wish to adopt their stepchild to formalise their legal relationship and establish a parental role. It can be a complex and challenging process. In Queensland, there are specific requirements to adopt a stepchild legally.
The Concept of Adoption
To “adopt” is to raise the child of another person legally. According to the Adoption Act 2009 of Queensland, you must get information, counselling, and assistance to help you understand what adoption means before your stepparent can legally adopt you.
The Act aims to promote adopted persons’ well-being and best interests throughout their lives and support efficient and accountable practices in delivering adoption services. This Act is administered such that the well-being and best interests of the adopted child are prioritised.
If the Children’s Court grants the stepparent’s request to adopt a stepchild, they will legally be the stepchild’s parent, and the birth parent will no longer be the legal parent of the adopted child.
If you are a child’s stepparent, you must meet the following requirements to be eligible to apply for adoption of your step-child in QLD:
- You must be at least 18 years old.
- You must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident of Queensland.
- You must be married or in a de facto relationship with the child’s biological parent.
- You must have lived with the child and partner for at least three years.
- You must have been granted leave by the Family Court of Australia under the Family Law Act 1975 (Commonwealth) to start adoption proceedings
- The child is at least five years old and not more than 17; the Court may accept applications concerning a child who has turned 17 but is not yet 18 in some circumstances.
The Step Parent Adopting a Stepchild in QLD Process
In Queensland, the Adoption Act 2009 outlines the adoption process. The Department of Child Safety, Youth, and Women is responsible for arranging adoptions in Queensland. Here’s a brief overview of the process of adopting a stepchild in QLD:
- The Department of Child Safety, Youth, and Women will speak with you and your family to determine whether adoption is in your best interests.
- The stepparent must submit an application to the Children’s Court to get an adoption order.
- The Children’s Court will decide whether adoption is in your best interests.
- The Children’s Court will issue an Adoption Order if it determines that adoption is best for you. This includes an order for parental responsibility
Adopting a stepchild in QLD can be a lengthy and complicated process, but it is a decision that can provide a family with a sense of permanency and security. Understanding the legal requirements and procedures involved in the adoption process is essential to ensure it is lawful.
The Lifelong Impact of Adoption
Adoption has proven to be a good alternative for children who cannot be raised by their own families, and adopted kids seem to perform just as well as other kids. However, both the adopted child and the birth parent or parents may experience lifetime repercussions. If the child is part of a stable and loving adoptive family, they are well prepared to handle difficulties related to adoption.
A child raised in an open and accepting environment will be less likely to struggle with feelings of sadness or difference and will comprehend that their birth parent(s) made the right decision by choosing adoption.
Lack of support from the child’s parents and family may make it difficult for the child to develop a good sense of self, resulting in strained or estranged relationships as an adult. Some adopted people may struggle to leave their adoptive family as adults due to fears of abandonment and debt.
The Costs of Adopting a Stepchild in QLD
When it comes to adopting a stepchild, the costs can vary depending on different factors:
The QLD Government’s fees and charges increase on 1 July each year. On 1 July 2022, the fees and charges were increased by 2.5% in line with the Government’s indexation policy. These are the fees:
- Application fee: AU$91.12
- Assessment fee: AU$683.47
Note that these fees may change on July 1, 2023. View this link to check updated fees for 2023-24.
In addition to legal and court costs, there may be other expenses for adopting a stepchild in QLD. For example, if the child is from another country, there may be immigration fees. There may also be costs associated with obtaining medical records or a new birth certificate. The QLD Government requires the following fees:
- Local (Queensland) Adoption Assessment Fee: AU$740.05
- Intercountry Adoption Supervision Fee: AU$2,278.22
- Intercountry Adoption Assessment Fee: AU$5,315.70
Awareness of the costs associated with the adoption process is essential. Legal fees, court costs, and other expenses can add up quickly. If you are considering adopting a stepchild in QLD, consulting with an experienced adoption attorney is best to understand the costs and the process involved.
If you are considering adopting a stepchild in QLD, several resources are available to help you. These resources include:
- Adoption Services. Adoption Services is a government agency that provides information and support to people considering adoption.
- The International Social Service Australia. ISS Australia has extensive competence in international adoption and has a long history of offering cross-border family and adoption tracing and reunification services.
- The Benevolent Society. This organisation offers telephone and in-person counselling, support, and information during the search process, including finding records, mediation, and assistance for people wishing to contact relatives. Provides individual, family, or group counselling and support to people affected by adoption.
- The Link-Up (Qld) Aboriginal Corporation. They offer services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults who have been separated from or removed from their families and want to reunite with them.
Adopting a stepchild in QLD is a big decision. It is essential to do your research and get all the information you need before you make a decision. If you are considering adoption, we encourage you to contact Adoption Services or one of the other resources listed above.
A Family Lawyer Can Help You With Adopting a Stepchild in QLD
If you are considering adopting a stepchild in QLD, speaking with an experienced lawyer to discuss your options and get legal advice on the adoption process is crucial. A lawyer can help you understand the adoption process, protect your rights, and ensure that the adoption is in the child’s best interests.
Some of the benefits of working with a family lawyer when adopting a stepchild in QLD are:
- Peace of mind. Knowing that you have an experienced lawyer can give you peace of mind during adoption.
- Expertise. A lawyer has the knowledge and experience to navigate the complex adoption process. Family lawyers are knowledgeable about the Family Law Act 1975. This Act is the primary legislation used for family law matters in Australia.
- Representation. If necessary, a lawyer can represent you in court to ensure that the step parent adoption is approved.
- Access to resources. A lawyer can connect with resources to help you with the adoption process, such as financial assistance, counselling, support groups, and with Adoption Services Queensland.