Step Parent Adoption

Need to Know

  • Step-parent adoption is the legal process for you to become the permanent adoptive parent of your partner’s child.
  • There are several steps to the adoption process and you must meet eligibility criteria to apply.
  • In Queensland, the Adoption Act 2009 sets out how the law around adoption works.
  • Privately arranged adoptions are illegal in Queensland.
  • Our skilled family lawyers can help you navigate the steps to successful adoption.

Making families stronger

Adopting a child means formally recognising them as your own. It is both a symbolic and legal process that requires you to meet certain requirements set out by the state.  

When you adopt a child as a non-biological parent (for example a step-parent), you are granted full parental responsibility of the child. This also means that the child assumes all the rights and privileges of a birth child.

In Queensland, all adoptions (including local and overseas adoptions) are organised through Adoption Services Queensland (ASQ) in the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women (DCSYW).  

Who can adopt a child?

Many step-parents make the decision to adopt their partner’s child. Single parent and same sex adoptions are also legal in Queensland. In other cases, a person known to the child (for example, a grandparent) may make an adoption application.


The process is the same for everybody. There are no short-cuts as a step-parent of a child.

How do I adopt a child?

You must first seek permission from the Family Court of Australia to apply for step-parent adoption. Both the step-parent (partner/spouse) and the birth parents must make this application.

If your application is approved by the Family Court of Australia, you can register your interest to adopt your step-child with the ASQ. The ASQ will consider a long list of criteria to issue a suitability report for the Children’s Court. The Children’s Court will determine whether the adoption is successful (when a final adoption order is made).


Both parents must consent to the adoption before the Court will make an adoption order. However, there are steps to follow in circumstances where one parent is solely responsible for the child and/or when the other parent is not known and/or cannot be found.

Step-parent adoption - your eligibility to apply

Adoption is a serious matter and there are many legal requirements that must be followed to give you the best chance of a successful adoption.

To apply to adopt a child as a step-parent, you must satisfy the following:

  • You are an adult.
  • You are a resident in Queensland.
  • You are an Australian citizen.
  • You have lived with the child and your partner (birth parent) for a minimum of three years.
  • You have obtained permission from the Family Court of Australia to commence adoption proceedings.
  • The child is at least five years old and not more than 17 years old.

Seek help before you apply

The process of step-parent adoption is not to be taken lightly. It can seem overwhelming and be confusing at times.

If you are considering adopting a child, speak to our team of family law experts who can help.

Speak to an experienced Gold Coast family lawyer today.  Book a free 60 minute initial consultation with Quinn Family Law.

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