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 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.

For more information, see: “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.

Adoption Regulations 1959, reg 9, Schedule, Forms 2, 3

Consent must be given using a specific form. It must be witnessed by an independent lawyer, a registrar or a judge. To find the forms, go to You can go to your local Family Court if you need help to fill in the forms.

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

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online:

Access the free “Pregnancy Rights: Your legal options before and after pregnancy” booklet, here. 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.
Email for a hard copy:
Phone: Community Law Wellington and Hutt Valley – 04 499 2928

Family Court

The Family Court website covers many topics discussed in this chapter, including how the family court works, care of children, adoption and paternity.


New Zealand Law Society

The Law Society has helpful information on what happens with children when parents separate.


Inland Revenue

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

Phone: 0800 221 221

Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Supervised Contact Services (ANZASCS)

The ANZASCS website has information about supervised contact and lists contact details for approved providers of supervised contact services.


Alternative Dispute Resolution

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. The following list is not exhaustive:

Resolution Institute:
Arbitrators’ and Mediators’ Institute of New Zealand Inc (AMINZ):
Family Works:

Oranga Tamariki/Ministry for Children

Oranga Tamariki’s website has information about the adoption process.

Phone: 0508 326 459

Department of Internal Affairs

The DIA website has information on how to obtain original birth certificates for adopted children.


Registering your child’s birth

The Smartstart website allows you to register your baby’s birth online.


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