An application to adopt a step-child needs to be very carefully considered. It can be challenging for all those involved, particularly the child, who may feel that they are cut off from their birth history or that they have lost connection with an important part of their former life.
In order to be adopted, the child must be 18 or under (up to the day before their 19th birthday).
To adopt a step child, you must be over 21 and have lived in the same home as the child for at least 6 months at the point of making your application.
If you are the partner of a birth parent, you can apply to adopt the birth parent's child. You can do so as a couple with the birth parent or individually. You will need to demonstrate that you have an enduring relationship with the child's birth parent.
Please contact our team on 03000 420508 to discuss your situation before making an application. There are alternatives to adoption that could be a more suitable option for your family. Alternatively you can email us NAIAdoption@kent.gov.uk.
Alternatives to adoption
Child arrangement order
A child arrangement order (formally known as a residence order) states whom a child should live with and gives parental responsibility to that person. Parental responsibility would then be shared with others who already have it, i.e. the birth mother and the birth father (if he has it). Having parental responsibility gives you the power to share in making decisions about a child's future with others who have it. A child arrangement order usually ends when the child is 18 years old.
Becoming a guardian
The step-parent/partner could be made the guardian of a child. This only takes effect on the death of the birth mother, and only then if no one else with parental responsibility is still alive.
A step-parent who is married to the birth parent or partner in a civil partnership with the resident birth parent can obtain parental responsibility through a written agreement lodged with the court.
By adopting a child you will change their future for the better.