Adoption

Consent to adoption

Who has to Agree

Adoption Act 1955, ss 7, 9

The child’s birth parents and guardians have to agree to any adoption (but not the father if the mother is the child’s sole guardian, see “Father’s consent” below). The birth mother has to wait at least 10 days after the birth of the child to agree to the adoption.

The birth parents have the right to say that they want the child to be brought up with a particular religion.

Once birth parents and guardians have agreed, they can’t change their minds while an application to adopt the child is being decided.

If the birth mother is the child’s sole (only) guardian, then the father’s consent is not required. In that case, if the father doesn’t agree to the adoption, he will need to become the legal parent or guardian of the child. See in this chapter, “When will a mother be a sole guardian?” and “What if the father is not a guardian?”

Partner of individual adopting

Adoption Act 1955, s 7(2)(b)

When a person is applying alone to adopt a child, their spouse must also agree to the adoption. However, this doesn’t apply if the couple are currently separated and the separation is likely to continue.

Adoption Act 1955, s 11(b)

No. The child doesn’t have to agree to the adoption. However, the Family Court must consider the child’s wishes (taking into account their age and level of understanding) when deciding whether the adoption would be in the child’s best interest.

When consent isn’t required

Adoption Act 1955, s 8

A parent’s or guardian’s consent isn’t required if:

  • the child has been abandoned, neglected or continually ill-treated or if there has been a failure to exercise the normal duty and care of parenthood, or
  • the parent or guardian is unfit. The court will consider things like the parent or guardian’s physical or mental capacity.
Next Section | The adoption process

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Parents, guardians and caregivers

Where to go for more support

Community Law

www.communitylaw.org.nz

Your local Community Law Centre can provide initial free legal advice and information.

Oranga Tamariki / Ministry for Children

www.orangatamariki.govt.nz/adoption/adopting-in-nz

Phone: 0508 FAMILY (0508 326 459)
Email: enquiry@ot.govt.nz

This web page has information about the adoption process.

Family Court

www.justice.govt.nz/family

The Family Court website includes information on the topics in this chapter.

Family Court fee waiver forms

www.justice.govt.nz/courts/going-to-court/court-fees/apply-for-help-to-pay-court-fees

Department of Internal Affairs

www.govt.nz/browse/family-and-whanau/adoption-and-fostering/finding-your-birth-parents

This DIA webpage has information on how to obtain original birth certificates for adopted children.

Parents can now register their baby’s birth online at: www.smartstart.services.govt.nz/register-my-baby

“What happens to your children when you part?” (pamphlet)

www.lawsociety.org.nz/for-the-public/common-legal-issues/what-happens-to-your-children-when-you-part
Phone: (04) 472 7837
Email: pamphlets@lawsociety.org.nz

This New Zealand Law Society pamphlet covers guardianship, care of and contact with children, how disputes are resolved, and other child-focused issues. Access the pamphlet online or order hardcopies from the New Zealand Law Society.

Inland Revenue

www.ird.govt.nz/childsupport

Phone: 0800 221 221

Inland Revenue’s Child Support webpage has a wide range of forms and guides for parents and caregivers.

Alternative dispute resolution

www.resolution.institute – Resolution Institute is a community of mediators, arbitrators, adjudicators, restorative justice practitioners and other DR professionals.

www.aminz.org.nz – AMINZ (Arbitrators and Mediators Institute of New Zealand).

There are many kinds of “alternative dispute resolution” that, depending on your personal situation, may be cheaper and more successful than going to the Family Court. These include counselling, mediation and negotiation. You can find out more at the above websites

Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Supervised Contact Services

www.anzascs.org.nz

The ANZASCS website has information about organisations that are approved as providers of supervised contact services.

“Pregnancy Rights: Your legal options before and after pregnancy” booklet

www.communitylaw.org.nz

This booklet contains practical answers to questions about pregnancy and the law, and includes information on sexual health and consent, options after a positive pregnancy test, healthcare, education, housing and more.

Order hard copies from:
Community Law Wellington and Hutt Valley
Phone: (04) 499 2928

Email: publications@wclc.org.nz or visit www.communitylaw.org.nz to buy a copy or access free online.

Also available as a book

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