Partner Applications for Adoption
In March 2014, a new Section 1, Definition of Partner was added to this chapter. Further amendments were made throughout the chapter which should be re-read.This chapter is currently under review.
1. Definition of Partner
The Statutory Guidance on Adoption 2013 states this section applies if a person is the partner of the child's parent if they and the child's parent are a couple but the partner is not the child's parent. A couple is:
- A married couple;
- Two people in a civil partnership; or
- Two people whether of different sexes or the same sex, are living as partners in 'an enduring family relationship' (except where they are closely related i.e. parents, grandparents, siblings or uncle/aunt and nephew/niece.
When a parent and partner seek advice about adopting their child, it should be a borne in mind that adoption may not be the most suitable option (see CoramBAAF booklet on partner adoption). Following the implementation of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 Parental Responsibility can be obtained by agreement with the other parent(s) having parental responsibility as set out in the Parental Responsibility Agreement Regulation (amended) 2005 (see also Parental Responsibility and Consent Procedure or by applying directly to the court for an order giving or a change of name should be explored and their advantages and disadvantages compared with adoption. If a Child Arrangements Order is sought, this needs to be fully discussed with the prospective adopters and with the child in order that they understand the wishes and feelings of the natural parent with whom the child will no longer live.
Applications should be treated with considerable caution where:
- The applicant's relationship is very short-lived and there are misgivings about the stability of their marriage or relationship;
- The child is old enough to remember living with his/ her non-resident birth parent or is having contact with him or her;
- The non-resident birth parent or his or her family live in the locality;
- The non-resident birth parent or his or her family continue to take an interest in the child;
- There are indications that the application has been made for the wrong reasons; e.g. to exclude the non-resident birth parent; to consolidate the applicant's relationship. It will sometimes be appropriate in such cases to make a negative recommendation to the Court;
- The child needs to have lived with the partner for 6 months before an application may be taken up.
Applications are more likely to be recommended where:
- The child has been in the care of the applicants for several years and has an excellent relationship with the partner;
- The non-resident birth parent has died;
- The non-resident birth parent has consistently over a period of years show no interest in the child.
If the partner wishes to go ahead with adoption they much notify the Local Authority in writing of their intention to adopt under Section 44 of the Adoption and Children Act Form CSF3970 may be used for this purpose. This notification must be given no less than three months before an application and no more than 2 years after the notification.
The child's parent's partner may make the adoption application alone without the child's own birth parent losing a parental responsibility/status if they enjoyed it previously.
The effect of the notice of intention is that the child becomes as if the child was privately fostered and must be visited in accordance with Private Fostering Regulations (see the separate Private Fostering Procedure. The child must be visited within 7 days' notice of intention. Schedule 1 is to be completed on the first visit. Thereafter, until the adoption order visit, to be at no more than 6 weekly intervals.
Applicants should be advised that their health visitor and/ or child's school will be contacted for a reference and they may wish to discuss this with the relevant people in advance.
Applicants should be advised at the outset that while they have a right to pursue their application, the making of an Adoption Order is not a formality and that much will depend on the attitude of the judge/ magistrates to this form of adoption which tends to vary from one court to another.
Applicants should be reminded of the availability of legal advice from a solicitor which may be helpful to them and will be necessary if the application is contested by the birth parent or the applicants take issue with the report of the local authority.
The Adoption team which is notified of the proposed adoption is generally required by the court to submit three copies of the report within six weeks of receiving notice of the hearing. A local arrangement has been made whereby Hertfordshire Children's Services has been given 13 weeks to complete the report. However, this needs to be confirmed with the court on an individual basis. This report must cover all matters set out in Schedule 29.
In partner adoptions, there may be little information readily available for the preparation of the Schedule 2/29 Report and applicants may not appreciate the significance of the enquires. There may be a lot to do in a short time, gathering all the background information and interviewing other parties. The court should be informed if you think you think you need more time.
Before the social worker completed the Schedule 29 Report, work may need to be undertaken with the child concerning his/her life story. It is also very helpful to a child if letters of origin from the birth parent and from other close relatives can be given to the child or is available to the child as he/she grows up. It is very important children to be kept in touch with their past when they have been adopted.
Before the court will make an adoption order it mist be satisfied that the applicant is the partner of a parent of the child to be adopted (144 (7) of Adoption Children Act).
The Adoption Order does not extinguish the parental responsibility, of the parent who is the applicant's partner.
The Adoption Order does extinguish parental responsibility for the non-resident birth parent or anyone else with parental responsibility or any other order i.e. Residence Order, Child Arrangements Order, Special Guardianship.
A parental responsibility agreement does not remove parental responsibility from the non-resident birth parent and does not legally separate the child from membership of this part of his/ her extended family.
Partner adoptions are entitled to advice, counselling and information under the Adoption Support Regulations 2005. They are not entitled to on-going financial support.
All enquires concerning partner adoption must be directed to the Adoption Teams and the applicant should be advised of alternatives to adoption, whether over the phone or via an office interview.
- Other methods to change surname;
- Other methods partner may obtain parental responsibility via Parental Responsibility Order or Child Arrangements Order;
- Appointment of a guardian.
(Responsibility - Adoption Team)
Applicant who wishes to pursue adoption will then be invited in for an office visit, following this they will be written to explaining the implications of adoption and placing them on a waiting list.
(Responsibility - Manager Adoption Team)
When the applicants reach the top of the waiting list, they will be allocated a social worker and advised in writing to notify the Adoption Team of their intentions to apply for an Adoption Order using Form CSD3970
(Responsibility - Applicants)
Notification must include full names and addresses of the applicant, the child's full name and date of birth, and his/ her relationship to the applicants. It must be signed by the applicant.
Acknowledge receipt of notification
(Responsibility - Applicants)
Advice the applicant that they may lodge their application with the court. Three copies of the completed application form and the required enclosures such as the child's full birth certificate, decree absolute, etc. will be required, as will a set fee payable to the Court.
(Responsibility - Applicants)
When notified by the court that the application has been received, the social worker will begin their Schedule 2/29 Report and undertake the necessary checks for the report for the court. This must include seeing the child the applicant and the birth parent(s).
(Responsibility - Adoption Social Worker)
N.B. Any new application after 30 December 2005 must be under Section 29.
Applicants must be informed that they must provide as much documentary evidence as possible.
Applicant must be made aware that the following checks will be made and that the nature of the application will be explained to health visitors and/or schools:
- DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check (including all members of the household aged 16 or over;
- Local Authority;
- Health Visitors (under 5's);
- Schools (over 5's).
N.B. Applicants must be advised that the child/ children must be aware of his/her circumstances in relation to the proposed adoption according to his/her age and level of understanding.
Personal references and medical reports are not required, but it should be ascertained if there are significant health issues that might affect the adoption. The applicant will need to be informed that the social worker will be meeting the non-resident birth parent to ascertain his/her wishes and feelings about the application. Birth parent and partner should be interviewed separately.
Every reasonable attempt should be made to ascertain views and wishes of the non-resident birth parent. The view and wishes of the wider family members are likely to be relevant, especially if the non resident birth parent is dead.
The social worker must access any other assessment Hertfordshire County Council, or any other Council or Independent Agency, may have made with regard to the applicants, e.g. as childminders, foster cares, prospective adopters, private foster carers, carers, birth parents. The social worker's conclusion must comment on the conclusion of the earlier assessment(s) and how far these concur or differ from the social worker's recommendation. assessment. If the social worker's recommendation differs from the earlier assessment the report must be ratified by the Services Manager, in addition to the Team Manager.
Partner adoption applications are generally heard in the Family Proceedings Court or in the County Court. The timescale for reports may vary from court to court.
The consent to adoption by the birth parent/s will need to be witnessed by an officer from CAFCASS.
The social worker should attend the court hearing with the applicant, the child and the applicant's solicitor if one is involved.
If the Adoption Order is granted, the child's original birth certificate is retained by the court and an Adoption Certificate will be sent to the applicants in due course.
After closure, the file will be kept by the relevant Adoption Team for 100 years (as other adoption files are kept)
The outcome of the hearing will be noted by the Adoption Team.