Adoption Law in Queensland
The term ‘adoption’ refers to the process of transferal of legal rights and responsibilities of parenthood from one set of parents to another. This includes both the process of adopting a child into a family and, those parents who wish to place their existing child into adoption for various reasons. In Queensland, adoptions must be organised through Adoption Services Queensland, as it is currently unlawful for persons to privately arrange an adoption.
The process of adopting a child in Queensland involving entering your name on the “expression of interest” register with Adoption Services Queensland. Persons who have entered their details on this register will then be assessed as suitable to adopt. Eligibility to have your name entered on the register requires either:
- The application be made jointly with a spouse;
- You and your spouse are adults;
- At least one party is an Australian citizen;
- You are resident or domiciled in Queensland;
- You or your spouse is not currently pregnant;
- You or your spouse is not undergoing fertility treatment and have not undergone fertility treatment within the last six months;
- You do not have custody of a child under one year of age or a child has been in your custody for less than one year; and
- You have been in a relationship with your spouse for two years.
Prior to 2016, the ninth requirement demanded the adoptive parties be of opposite sex, however, since the Queensland government passed the Adoption and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016, same-sex couples are not precluded from adoption any longer.
Objecting to Suitability Assessment
If the Department determines you are ineligible or unsuitable to express interest on the register or adopt a child, the reasons for this decision must be provided. You have the right to have this decision reviewed, however, the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) body which reviews the original decision is unlikely to overturn it unless there has been an error in assessment, error in law or some other substantial injustice.
Adopting a Step-Child of a Relationship
Whilst not usual for parents to formally adopt a step-child of the other parent’s previous relationship, a person may adopt a step-child provided:
- The person is an adult resident in Queensland and is either an Australian citizen (or spouse of an Australian citizen);
- The person lives with the child and parent for at least three years;
- The person has been granted leave by the Family Court to commence adoption; and
- The child is at least five years old and not more than 17 years old.
Consent of the child’s biological parents or other guardians is required to be freely and voluntarily given, provided the parties are known. If the identity of a birth parent is unknown, the department must take reasonable steps to locate this person to provide the opportunity to participate in the decisions relating to the child’s adoption. If the proposed adoption involves a step-child, both birth parents must consent to the adoption before the Children’s Court. However, in certain circumstances, this consent may be dispensed if a party does not have the capacity to do so, or, is unnecessarily withholding consent.
Result of Adoption
Under the current Queensland law, once an adoption order has been made, the previous parental rights and responsibilities are extinguished, transferring to the adoptive parents. This includes the requirement to pay child support. During this process, the adoptive parents are able to change the child’s name. To affect a final adoption order, ensure that this is registered with the Registry for Births, Deaths, and Marriages and you receive the new birth certificate of the child. This new certificate features the child’s name post adoptions and includes the names of the new parents.