A parenting order does not grant legal recognition of the step-parent as a parent
Under the Family Law Act, a step-parent is treated as a stranger but they can apply for parenting orders under Section 65C of this law. However, a parenting order does not grant legal recognition of the step-parent as a parent of the child. If the intention of the step-parent is to be regarded as a parent of the child, then he must apply for adoption of his stepchildren.
The adoption severs the relationship of the child with his biological parents and transfers the parental rights and duties to the adoptive parent.
Under Section 4(1) of the Family Law Act 1975 (FLA), a person is defined as a step-parent if he/she:
- Is not a parent of the child; and
- Is, or has been married to a de facto partner who is a parent of a child; and
- Treats, or at any time while married to, or a de facto partner of the parent, treated the child as a member of the family that is formed with the parent.
Section 60G of the FLA allows the Family Court to grant leave for the commencement of filing for the adoption of a child by a prescribed adopting parent. A prescribed adopting parent is one who may be the parent of a child, spouse of or a person in a de facto relationship with the parent of the child, or a parent of a child and his/her spouse or a person in a de facto relationship with the parent of the child. The test in granting leave of court is whether or not it would be in the best interests of the child. Courts are careful in granting leave because their decision might unduly deprive a real parent who still wants to play an active part in his child’s life.
There are two types of adoption that can be availed of by a step-parent:
1. State organized adoption under state legislation;
2. An adoption that occurs within the child’s own family under the FLA.
Disclaimer : This article provides basic information only and is not a substitute for a professional or legal advice. It is prudent to obtain legal advice from a family lawyer.