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Step-parent adoptions are rare in South Australia, as it is possible to provide legal security for stepchildren through the Family Court of Australia.
If you are considering applying to adopt your step-child, you will need to seek 'Leave to Proceed' from the Family Court of Australia before you can make an application for an adoption order.
In a step-parent situation, an order in the Family Court (rather than an Adoption Order) is usually seen as being in the best interests of the child.
Adoption practice and research shows that it is generally in a child's best interest to maintain ties with their family of origin. This is usually more positive for the child and allows them to know all aspects of their background which is important in developing their identity.
This is also reflected in the South Australian Adoption Act 1988 (section 10) that deals with step-parent adoptions. That section says:
“The Court will not make an adoption order in relation to a child who is less than 18 years of age unless satisfied that adoption is in the best interests of the child and, taking into account the rights and welfare of the child, clearly preferable to any alternative order that may be made under the laws of the State or the Commonwealth”.
See a solicitor to talk about an application for a Family Court order appropriate to your family's situation in the first instance.
You can do this either by seeing a private solicitor or by making an appointment to see a Legal Services Commission of South Australia officer.
Telephone: 8463 3666 (current adoptions)
Email: adoptions [at] sa.gov.au