When a parent re-partners after a separation a child often gains a new parent. Sometimes adoption is considered to reflect the new family dynamics, and particularly when the child’s other biological parent is not involved in their upbringing.

Adoptions by step-parents typically occur in situations where they have been acting as the child’s parent because one biological parent has had no involvement or showed any interest in being involved in their child’s upbringing and development. In these situations, the child usually considers the step-parent as their true parent and has had the step-parent in their lives for a long period of time.

If such an adoption is to occur it must be in the child’s immediate and long-term welfare and best interests. The Court will consider the suitability of the step-parent, the child’s relationship with the biological parent that is not adopting and their extended family, and whether any benefit can be derived from that relationship.

If the biological parent applies with the step-parent, their consent to the adoption is not needed. Consent of the other biological parent is normally required, provided the biological parents were married when the child was born, or they are both recorded on the child’s birth certificate.

If the biological father is not a guardian, then their consent to the adoption may not be required unless the Court thinks it is expedient and in the best interests of the child to do so. If the biological father has been involved in the child’s life or showed an interest in being involved, the Court may require consent.

In some circumstances adoption may not be the best course of action due to its permanence, especially when both biological parents are involved with the child’s upbringing and development. An alternative option is appointing the step-parent as an additional guardian. More information about additional guardians can be found here.

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-price Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.


Please note that Rainey Collins is not contracted to provide Legal Aid, other than in the Treaty of Waitangi area.  We therefore are unable to take on any Civil or Family Legal Aid work. If you require Legal Aid in those areas, you can search the list of Legal Aid lawyers on the Ministry of Justice website.