Who can adopt a child? An introduction to the legal requirements for adoption

by The FindLaw Team

People who wish to adopt a child have to meet a number of legal requirements before an adoption order can be granted. There are a number of aspects to the criteria requirements that this piece will cover. 

Who can adopt?

Using the Adoption Act 2000 (NSW) as our guide, adoption orders can be made in favour of:

  • married couples;
  • de facto couples, including same sex relationships, where the relationship is at least two years’ duration, unless the court finds that there are special circumstances;
  • applicants who are single.

Except in circumstances where the child is adopted by either step-parents, relatives, or in exceptional circumstances, adoption orders cannot be made by the court if the applicant is under the age of 21, or less than 18 years older than the child.

What are the character requirements?

It probably goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway, applicants who the court will consider as suitable candidates to adopt must be of good repute, and fit and proper persons to fulfil the responsibilities of being a parent.

Adoption by a step parent

In order for a step parent to adopt a child, the following requirements must be met:

  • the child is at least five years of age;
  • the step parent must have lived with the child and the birth or adoptive parent of the child for a continuous period of at least two years;
  • the Court is satisfied that the adoption order is clearly preferable in the best interests of the child to any other action.

Adoption by a relative

In order for a relative to adopt a child, the following requirements must be met:

  • the child must have had a relationship with the relative for at least two years;
  • the Court is satisfied that the adoption order is clearly preferable in the best interests of the child to any other action.

For anyone wishing to adopt a child or has any other family law related enquiry, please contact a lawyer who can help.



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