Adoption Lawyers Sydney

Adoption Lawyers Sydney

Adoption Lawyers Sydney

Adoption Lawyers in Sydney are legal professionals who specialize in adoption law. They provide legal advice and representation to prospective adoptive parents, birth parents, and adoption agencies. These lawyers are knowledgeable about the legal procedures involved in the adoption process and can help navigate the complex legal system.

Adopting a child and taking full parental responsibility for another person’s child can seem overwhelming. Family lawyers can provide comprehensive advice on the procedures and steps required and help guide you through the process.

Find out more about the adoption process in NSW, the different types of adoptions and the requirements. Let’s take a closer look.

What Is Adoption?

The adoption process is when the legal rights associated with parenting are transferred from a child’s birth parents to prospective adoptive parents. The Supreme court grants an order that transfers all parental rights and responsibilities, custody and guardianship to the adoptive parents. The transfer of parental responsibility includes all matters, including; care, schooling, medical treatment and religious education.

Once an adoption order is issued, the child becomes a permanent member of their adoptive family and assumes the same rights as a biological child.

There are a variety of reasons that people choose to adopt. They may be unable to conceive naturally, are same-sex couples, or perhaps step-parents who want to legally adopt a child already in their care.

Adoption In NSW

The Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) is the government department which manages adoptions in the state. As well as the DCJ, a few other agencies are permitted to provide adoption services in NSW. They include:

  • Anglicare adoption services
  • Australian families for children (AFC)
  • Barnardos Australia adoptions, or find a family
  • CatholicCare adoption services

Who Can Adopt A Child In NSW?

An adoptive parent must adhere to state adoption legislation, and the law may differ depending on where they reside. The critical requirements for consideration are age, residence and marital status.

According to NSW legislation, an application to adopt can be made by any of the following, who must be at least 18 years old:

  • A married, de facto or couples in same sex relationships
  • Since 2018 every state and territory in Australia has allowed a same sex couple to adopt
  • A single person

In an attempt to maintain ties with their aboriginal community, family and culture, it is preferred that aboriginal children are not adopted by parents outside of their community.

Adoption Law

In New South Wales, the legislation which deals with adoption law is The Adoption Act 2000 (NSW). The legislation details the process that must be followed when adopting a child in NSW.

A final step in the application process is to lodge the request with the Supreme Court of NSW. And if applicants meet the specific requirements, an order may be issued.

An accredited family law specialist can provide comprehensive advice and help individuals navigate the complex associated legislation and regulations.

The Adoption Process

Adopting a child is a comprehensive and lengthy undertaking. Many rules and regulations govern child adoption, and prospective parents must familiarise themselves with the legal process. Strict criteria must be fulfilled for an assessment to be successful.

Requirements

Prospective adoptive parents should familiarise themselves with the requirements to ensure they are eligible applicants.

Some of the specific requirements which applicants must meet include the following:

  • Physical, emotional and mental health
  • Age and maturity
  • Life experience, skills and ability to fulfil parental responsibility duties
  • Capacity to provide a stable and secure home environment
  • Financial circumstances and ability to adequately provide for the child’s needs
  • Capacity to facilitate contact with the child’s birth parents and exchange information
  • Criminal history
  • Stable character
  • Relationship with spouse or partner
  • History of prior care of a child

Process

When looking at adopting a child in Australia, the first step that prospective parents need to take is to complete an Expression of interest (EOI). A government organisation will screen the EOI to assess whether the applicants meet the necessary criteria.

If approved, the next step is to attend an adoption preparation seminar where applicants will be informed about the process, provided training information, tips on lodging an application, timeframes and issues and experiences of other adoptive parents. Seeking advice and gathering as much information as possible before committing to adoption is crucial to ensure it is suitable for everyone involved.

After attending the required seminars and training sessions, a formal application can be submitted. Substantial documentation is required to support the application.

The application will be reviewed, including reference checks and review and assessment of all documents, to assess parental suitability, which can take 3-4 months. If the application is successful, the applicants will be notified by mail.

Once approved, the applicant’s details are placed on the relevant register, and they will be approved for a placement. If the application is for intercountry adoption, the details will be forwarded to the appropriate overseas program for their assessment. International adoptions can take years, particularly for young children. Remaining open to children from different backgrounds and the adoption of multiple siblings and a range of ages may help to reduce the wait time.

How Much Does It Cost to Adopt A Child In Australia?

The cost of adoption in Australia varies as the jurisdiction is managed at a state level. Also, non-government organisations have their fee structure.

In NSW, for example, a foster carer can adopt children in their care with no associated cost, while other local adoptions may start at $3000.

The most expensive option is intercountry adoption, as the prospective parents must fund each step. In addition to the regular fees, the applicants will also need to pay a fee to the central authority that administers the application and the partner country. The initial application fee is usually non-refundable, regardless of the outcome. Applicants must also cover travel costs, accommodation, airfare, visa and immigration fees, and potential lost income. The price will vary depending on which country the child originates. Fees for international adoption can range anywhere from $3000 – $12000 per application.

Types Of Adoption

There are several different ways that a child can be adopted. An adoptive parent must decide on an option that is the most appropriate for them and their family, with the child’s best interests as the primary objective.

Local Adoption

Local adoption is for children born or permanently residing in Australia and who generally have no previous relationship or contact with the adoptive parents.

Out Of Home Care Adoption

An out of home care adoption can include foster care children who cannot stay with their birth family. Finding suitable potential parents is crucial for these children, as many may have had exposure to trauma or violence. Adoption/permanent care provides a sense of belonging and stability in the child’s life which can have positive mental and physical outcomes. Permanent care guardians will assume full parental responsibility for a child. Most adoptions are by foster parents, grandparents, or step parents who are already taking care of the adoptive child. A children’s court can grant permanent care to guardians who assume full responsibility for a child removed from their birth families for protection.

Special Needs Adoption

For children with disabilities or special needs, particular care is required to match the child’s care demands, needs and background with suitable parents. They must be able to meet the child’s emotional, psychological, social and physical needs and be available for lifelong care. Matching the child’s needs and the parents’ management capacity is paramount in special needs cases.

Intrafamily Adoption

It is called a known child or intrafamily adoption when the adoptive parents already have a relationship with the child, such as a step parent or legal carer. In some cases they may want to adopt a child from their partner’s previous relationship.

For these types of situations, specific rules must be followed, and the court will only consider ruling in favour of a step parent if the conditions are met.

  1. The adopted child must be at least five years old
  2. The step parent has lived with the birth parent and the step child continuously for at least two years
  3. The child’s birth parents have provided consent
  4. It is in the child’s best interest for the adoption to occur

Intercountry Adoption

Intercountry adoptions are when a couple adopts a child from a country where they are not citizens or residents. Some countries have many children who require homes and not enough suitable adoptive parents. Australia enters into agreements with these countries as they have more couples seeking to adopt and fewer children available.

An international agreement called the Hague Adoption Convention protects children and ensures that the primary concern is the child’s best interest. Before an intercountry adoption is considered, all attempts will be made at placing the child in a home in the child’s country.

The Attorney General Department oversees intercountry adoptions in Australia, and the process is managed at a state level.

Generally, these adoptions are open adoptions, which means that the adopted child is made aware that they were adopted and are encouraged to maintain a relationship with their birth parents and embrace their heritage and culture.

Summary

Child adoptions occur when the legal rights associated with parenting are transferred from a child’s birth parents to prospective adoptive parents via a Supreme court order. Once an adoption order is issued, the child becomes a permanent member of their adoptive family and assumes the same rights as a biological child.

An adoptive parent must adhere to state legislation, and the law may differ depending on where they reside. Many rules and regulations govern adoption, and prospective parents must familiarise themselves with the legal process.

An adoptive parent must decide on an option that is the most appropriate for them and their family, with the child’s best interests as the primary objective.

Experienced family lawyers can provide comprehensive adoption matters advice and help individuals navigate the complex legislation and regulations associated with adoption.

FAQs

How Much Does It Cost To Adopt A Child In Australia?

The cost of child adoptions in Australia varies as the jurisdiction is managed at a state level. Also, non-government organisations have their fee structure.

In NSW, for example, a foster carer can adopt children in their care with no associated cost, while other local adoptions may start at $3000.

The most expensive option is intercountry adoption, as the adoptive parents must fund each step. Couples seeking to adopt internationally must pay a fee to the central authority that administers the application. Applicants must also cover travel costs, accommodation, airfare, visa and immigration fees, and potential lost income.

The cost will vary depending on which country the child originates. Fees for international adoption can range anywhere from $3000 – $12000 per application.

Family lawyers have extensive experience in adoption matters and can provide advice and guidance, and it is recommended that prospective parents obtain professional advice.

Is Private Adoption Legal In Australia?

In New South Wales, an adoption can only occur by using an accredited adoption service provider. The only agency in NSW for intercountry adoptions is DCJ, the Department of Communities and Justice.

Private adoptions are illegal and such arrangements will incur strict penalties, such as the child being refused entry back into Australia.

Simon Fletcher is the Principal Solicitor at FletchLaw. He has been admitted as a solicitor to the High Court of Australia and the Supreme Court of New South Wales. His academic qualifications include of a Bachelor of Laws, a Graduate Certificate in Professional Legal Practice and a Master of Applied Laws (Mediation and Family Law Dispute Resolution). He can offer assistance in a wide variety of legal areas.

Do you have a problem with Adoption or any other legal issue? Call us on 02 9159 9026 to find out how we can help.

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