Before a court considers the application for adoption by a step-parent, the Family Court of Australia must first give approval for the adoption to proceed under s 60G of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) [see Adoption Act 1988 (SA) s 10(2). Approval is rarely given therefore legal advice should be sought if intending to adopt in such circumstances.
Although the Adoption Act 1988 (SA) provides for the adoption of a child by a step-parent the legislation discourages inappropriate applications. A step-parent or relative can only adopt a child who is less than 18 years of age, if it is in the child's best interests and it is clearly preferable to any alternative order, such as a parenting order [s 10]. The child's parent and step-parent must have lived together for at least five years unless the Court is satisfied there are special circumstances [Adoption Act 1988 (SA) s 12]. The relationship between a child and a parent whose partner adopts the child is not affected by the adoption order.