Adopting a step child can be a wonderful occasion in your life, albeit a bittersweet moment if the biological parent has passed away. However, adopting your step child and the joy associated with the occasion can be dampened by the all of the stress of negotiating a complex legal procedure. There is nothing worse than trying to stay happy and excited while trying to figure out the correct way to fill out the mountains of paperwork.

There can be so much to understand and navigate that it can be entirely too stressful – many people do not even know where to begin when they first think about the subject and begin to look into the matter. While it may seem daunting when you first begin to research the topic but do not let the legal jargon put you off this wonderful family event. This article will outline the procedure and steps to adopting your step child and to becoming an official and happy family.

What is involved in adopting my step child?

A step parent who is the partner of the child in question’s natural parent then they are eligible to adopt their partner’s child or children – these children must be under eighteen however to be eligible for adoption themselves, this is because when they turn eighteen they are legally adults and capable of taking care of themselves.

What is an adoption order?

When a step parent enters into the process to adopt the child or children of their partner they are effectively terminating the legal relationship and rights of the other biological parent of the child, which also includes the wider network of family, such as aunts and grandparents. Because of this you must make sure that this adoption is best for the child and that the child does not feel like they have to choose between family members and split their loyalties. (This means that the child will not be eligible for any inheritance either). Once you are sure of this, you can apply. You must be twenty one years of age at least – if you are not married to the child’s parent then you must prove to the court that your relationship is stable and long lasting.

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You also need to have been living together as a family for at least six months. The application is made to either the County Court or High Court or the family proceedings court. This will most likely require a fee that is something you need to be made aware of. You will also need to formally tell the local authority’s children department of your intention to adopt your partner’s child three months before you send in your application. This is so they can assign a social worker to your case. If there is an agreement and the other natural parent has been informed of your intention then the process will be relatively straight forward. The application will take longer however if there is no agreement reached with the child’s other natural parent.

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