Step Parent Adoption: Obtaining Family Court Leave to Commence Proceedings

Step Parent Adoption Procedure in Qld

There is a procedure that you might be required to follow if there is an ability for you to adopt your step-child in Queensland.

Under the Qld Adoption Act, you might first need obtain the leave (permission) of the Family Court of Australia to adopt your step-child.

Obtaining “leave” means obtaining “permission” from the Family Court.

You obtain leave (permission) from the Family Court of Australia by filing an Application seeking leave to adopt the step-child in the Family Court Registry.

The Family Court Registry will allocate a date to your application for leave to adopt the step-child.

You should file 3 copies of your Application so that the Court can keep 1 copy and return 2 copies to you which will:

  • Have the Court’s official seal;
  • Have the file number the Court has allocated to the matter;
  • State the next Court date for the matter.

As soon as possible after filing your Application (and well before the first court date) you should serve a copy of the sealed Application on Adoption Services Queensland.

You should seek legal advice about whether your Application also needs to be served on other people the Court may consider to be “interested parties”. This may include:



  • The other biological parent (your spouse’s former partner);
  • If the other biological parent is deceased, their family.

If you do not serve everyone the Court considers necessary, the court may adjourn the matter until you have done so.

The copies you serve on Adoption Services Queensland and any other interested parties should be the sealed copies the Court has returned to you so that those copies have marked on them:

  • the Court’s official seal;
  • the file number the Court has allocated to the matter;
  • the next Court date for the matter.

Depending on how many people you need to serve, you may need to file more than 3 copies so that you have enough “sealed copies” to serve on all parties.

When deciding your application for leave to adopt a step-child, the Family Court will consider:

  • whether the grant of leave would be in the Child’s best interests;
  • the best interest factors set out in Section 60CC of the Family Law Act 1975;
  • whether if leave was granted, the proposed adoption would have any practical effect on the day to day life of the Child; and
  • a number of factors relating to the Child’s welfare.

After you have the leave (permission) of the Family Court, you can then make your application to adopt your step child to Adoption Services Queensland.

If the Family Court refuses to give you leave to adopt your step-child, Adoption Services Queensland will not usually consider your application.

If you obtain leave from the Family Court then after you apply to Adoption Services Queensland, if all is approved, then the Adoption Order will ultimately granted by the Childrens Court of Queensland (a Queensland State Court).

Sometimes, when applying to the Family Court for leave to adopt a step-child, Applicants also seek  Parenting Orders that:

  • they have shared parental responsibility;
  • the Child live with them;
  • the Child’s name be changed on the Birth Certificate.

It is often helpful to do this in case the Family Court refuses to grant leave to adopt the step-child, then the Court may still make some other Parenting Orders that may satisfy the needs of the step-parent and step-child.

You can also consider the alternatives to adoption available to a Step Parent in relation to their Step Child.


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