Consent to adoption
Who has to Agree
Consent of parents and guardians
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
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.
Does the child have to consent to be adopted?
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
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.
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