Adopting a step-child

Step-parent adoption is a legal process for a step-parent to become the permanent adoptive parent of his or her spouse's child. Adoption permanently severs the legal relationship between the child and his or her non-custodial birth parent and their family.

The assessment can only start if:

  • the step-parent is eligible to apply to adopt the child
  • the non-custodial parent/s consents to the child's proposed adoption by the step-parent, or the need for that parent/s consent is dispensed with by the Childrens Court of Queensland.

Find out more:


A child's step-parent is eligible to apply to adopt the child if the:

  • person is an adult who lives in Queensland and is an Australian citizen (or the partner of an Australian citizen)
  • person lives with the child and partner and has done so for at least 3 years
  • person has been granted leave by the Family Court of Australia under the Family Law Act 1975 (Commonwealth) to start adoption proceedings
  • child is at least 5 years old and not more than 17 years old; applications may be accepted in relation to a child who has turned 17 but is not yet 18 in some circumstances (see below).

Applications for a child who has turned 17

Applications for a child who is 17 years of age may be accepted if the step-parent can show there is enough time to complete the adoption process before the child turns 18.

This includes demonstrating there is enough time for:

  • the step-parent's eligibility to be decided
  • prescribed information and pre-consent counselling to be provided to:
    • any parent whose consent to the child's adoption is required
    • the child being adopted (only if the child is able to form and express views about the adoption)
  • the 30 day period in which a parent can revoke consent to the child's proposed adoption to expire, or
  • the step-parent to apply to the Childrens Court of Queensland (where applicable), for the need for a parent's consent to be dispensed with, to serve notice on the relevant parent of the application and for the Court to hear the matter
  • information required to inform the assessment of the step-parent's suitability to adopt the child to be obtained, including the step-parent's criminal and domestic violence history, traffic history and information from the Queensland Police Service
  • the home study assessment to be undertaken and a report of the assessment findings to be prepared
  • the step-parent to make an application for a final adoption order, and for the Childrens Court of Queensland to hear the matter.

How to apply

A step-parent seeking to adopt a step-child must complete the Application to adopt a step-child (PDF) form and forward it to Adoption Services.

As part of your application, you must provide a certified copy of two documents from the following list to prove your identity:

You can also contact us to talk about your circumstances and for assistance with completing the relevant application form.

Assessment of the application

Applications are carefully assessed as serious consequences result when an adoption order is made. The assessment considers a range of matters including the significance of the child's non-custodial parent and family. Required information for the assessment may include:

  • criminal, domestic violence, traffic and child protection history checks
  • home visits for assessment interviews
  • talking with you, your spouse, children and nominated referees
  • getting information about your health.

Before the application can be assessed, consent from the child’s non-custodial parent must be obtained. If it’s not possible to get the consent of each of the child's parents, the application can only be assessed if:

  • Adoption Services receives new information showing the parent wishes to give consent, or confirms the parent's identity or the whereabouts, or
  • the step-parent makes an application to the Childrens Court of Queensland for an order to dispense with the need for the consent of the parents.

After consent is obtained, the step-parent can pay the required assessment fee. The step-parent's suitability to adopt the step-child can then be assessed.

If the step-parent’s suitability is approved, Adoption Services will:

  • prepare a suitability report for the Childrens Court of Queensland
  • provide you with a copy of the suitability report.