5. Adopting a stepchild

You need to tell your local council if you want to adopt your spouse’s or partner’s child. You must do this at least 3 months before applying to a court for an adoption order.

The child must also have lived with both of you for at least 6 months.

The adoption assessment

The process to adopt is similar to an assessment through an adoption agency.

The assessment is used to help a court decide if you can adopt the child (rather than being sent to an independent adoption panel).

The court will ask your local council to provide a report on:

  • your partner
  • the child
  • the other birth parent

The report will be prepared by a social worker and will be used to help the court make a decision.

If granted, the adoption court order gives you parental responsibility for the child - along with your spouse or partner.

The order also takes away parental responsibility from:

  • the child’s other birth parent
  • anyone else who has parental responsibility for the child

An adoption order cancels any other type of court order, eg how, and when, the child’s birth parent can visit the child.

Help us improve GOV.UK

Please don't include any personal or financial information, for example your National Insurance or credit card numbers.