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Adoption Act 1988 (No. 41 of 1988)
Requested:  25 Apr 2014
Consolidated as at:  21 Feb 2012

20. Persons in whose favour adoption orders may be made

      (1) An order for the adoption of a child may be made in favour of two persons who, for a period of not less than 3 years before the date on which the order is made, have been married to each other or have been the parties to a significant relationship which is the subject of a deed of relationship registered under Part 2 of the Relationships Act 2003.

      (2) The period of 3 years referred to in subsection (1) may include a period during which the two persons resided together in a stable continuous relationship immediately before their marriage or the registration of the deed of relationship.

      (2A) The court may not make an adoption order in favour of a person who is in a significant relationship, within the meaning of the Relationships Act 2003, unless –

(a) the other party to the relationship is the natural or adoptive parent of the child proposed to be adopted; or

(b) either party to the relationship is a relative of the child proposed to be adopted.

      (3) The court shall not make an adoption order in favour of a person who is, or persons either of whom is, the mother of the child or a man who, under section 29(3), is an appropriate person to give consent to the adoption of the child.

      (4) Subject to this section, where the court is satisfied that exceptional circumstances exist in relation to the welfare and interests of the child which make it desirable to do so, the court may make an adoption order in favour of one person.

      (5) The court shall not make an adoption order in favour of one person –

(a) if that person is married or in a significant relationship referred to in subsection (1), unless that person is living separately and apart from his or her spouse; or

(b) if that person is married or in a significant relationship referred to in subsection (1) and is living with his or her spouse, except with the consent of that spouse.

      (6) Subject to subsection (7), an adoption order may be made in favour of the spouse of a natural parent, or of an adoptive parent, of the child concerned.

      (7) Where an application is made for an adoption order in favour of the spouse of a parent, or of an adoptive parent, of a child and there is an appropriate person within the meaning of section 29 to give consent to the adoption, the court shall not make an adoption order unless it is satisfied that –

(a) the making of an order by a court of competent jurisdiction for the custody or guardianship of the child would not make adequate provision to serve the welfare and interests of the child; and

(b) an order for the adoption of the child would better serve the welfare and interests of the child; and

(c) special circumstances exist which warrant the making of the adoption order.

      (8) On the making of an adoption order under subsection (7) relating to a child, the spouse shall be deemed to be a parent of the child jointly with that parent or adoptive parent as if the spouse and that parent or adoptive parent had been married to each other at the time the child was born but, notwithstanding section 50

(a) the child is not to be treated in law as if the child were not the child of that parent or adoptive parent; and

(b) that parent or adoptive parent is not to be treated in law as if the parent or adoptive parent were not a parent of that child; and

(c) the relationship between the child and that parent or adoptive parent is not terminated; and

(d) if that parent or adoptive parent is the guardian of the child, the order does not terminate the guardianship; and

(e) if, immediately before the adoption order is made, the child was the adopted child of that adoptive parent, the order does not terminate that adoption.


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