Adoption is the legal process by which a child joins and becomes a recognised member of a family. Adoptive parents assume all the rights and responsibilities of biological parents and birth parents no longer have any parental rights over the child.
Adoption arrangements in Victoria must be made through the Department of Human Services, or an approved adoption agency. There are restrictions on who can adopt a child. In particular, adoptive parents must be married, or have been living in a domestic (formerly known as de facto) relationship for at least two years.
Commonly, adoption arises in the context of a step-parent wishing to adopt their partner’s child from a former relationship. In these circumstances, parents can seek either a formal adoption, or a parenting Order from the Family Court, which gives the non-biological parent the same rights and responsibilities as a biological parent. What process will be most appropriate depends on the circumstances of each particular family. In the case of a formal adoption, the approval of the Family Court is required.
Adoption can be a complex and emotional process. Our team has experience in advising potential adoptive parents as to the correct process to be followed and the suitability of either the adoption process or obtaining Family Court Orders.