Adoption Alternatives: Step Parent getting Parenting Order

Obtaining a Parenting Order for Step Parent 

Although a step-parent may carry out a parenting role for their step-child, they do not automatically have legal parental responsibility or rights in relation to their step child.

One of the alternatives to adopting a step-child, is for the step-parent to obtain a parenting order in relation to the Child.

A step-parent can apply to the Federal Magistrates Court of Australia for a Parenting Order.

A Parenting Order will legally recogniise the step-parent as having the care of their step-child.

A Parenting Order can be made by the consent or all parties. If all parties consent (the biological parents and the step-parent) then the parties can file in Court, an Application for Consent Orders to obtain a Parenting Order in relation to the step-child.

If one party does not consent, an Application for a Parenting Order can still be made to the Court.

A Parenting Order will set out the parenting arrangements for the Child and give parental responsibility for the Child.

A Parenting Order can include Orders about many things including:




  • who the Child lives with;
  • the time a child spends with the other parent, relatives or another person;
  • the allocation of “parental responsibility” for a child;
  • if 2 or more persons are to share parental responsibility for a child – the way those persons consult with one another about decisions to be made for the Child;
  • the (frequency and type of) communication a child is to have with other significant people;
  • any aspect of the care, welfare or development of the Child; or
  • any other aspect of parental responsibility for a Child.


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