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Paul J Watson Solicitor - 116 Borough Road - Middlesbrough - TS1 2ES - T: 01642 293427

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children-solicitor-middlesbroughAdoption Process Guidance & FAQs -Our Family Solicitors in Middlesbrough explain;-

In order to be adopted, a child must:

  • be under the age of 18 when the adoption application is made;
  • not be (or have ever been) married or in a civil partnership.
  • The child’s birth parents

Normally, both birth parents have to agree (consent) to the adoption, unless:

  • They cannot be found
  • They are incapable of giving consent – e.g. due to a mental disability
  • The child would be put at risk if they were not adopted
  • Who can adopt a child?

You may be able to adopt a child if you are aged 21 or over (there is no upper age limit) and are either:

  • single;
  • married;
  • in a civil partnership;
  • an unmarried couple (same sex and opposite sex);
  • the partner of the child’s parent.
  • There are different rules for private adoptions and adoptions of looked-after children.

Do I have to live in the UK to adopt a child?

You do not need to be a British citizen to adopt a child, but:

  • At least one of you must have a fixed and permanent home in the UK (or the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man);
  • Both of you must have lived in the UK for at least one year before you begin the application process.
    Early stages of adoption

To adopt a child you can go through either:

  • The adoption agency that is part of your local council
  • A voluntary adoption agency

The adoption process

The basic process is as follows:

  • You contact an adoption agency – it will send you information about the adoption process.
  • The agency arranges to meet you – you may also be invited to a meeting with other people wanting to adopt a child.
  • If you and the agency agree to carry on, the agency will give you an application form.
  • The time it takes to adopt can vary – but it normally takes at least 8 months.

Adopting a stepchild

If you want to adopt your spouse’s or partner’s child, you need to tell your local council. 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, e.g. how, and when, the child’s birth parent can visit the child.

Birth parents: Your rights

For another couple (or person) to adopt your child, you normally have to agree to it.

Once your child as been adopted, you no longer have parental responsibility for them.

Depending on the child’s situation, you may be able to stay in contact with them. This is often done using letters and photographs (and sometimes meetings) through the agency responsible for arranging the adoption.

Fathers’ rights

As the child’s father you’ll be asked to agree to the adoption – but only if you have parental responsibility.

If you were never married to the child’s mother or named on the birth certificate, you can apply to the court for a Parental Responsibility Order to get parental responsibility.

Trying to stop the adoption process

If the adoption process has started, you should get legal advice from a solicitor or Citizens Advice.

To make an adoption legal, a court has to grant a court order.

The agency arranging the adoption must let you know what your rights are – and also at what point the adoption cannot be stopped.

If you do not want your child to be adopted, a court will give you the chance to say why. A social worker, independent of the adoption agency, will visit you and:

  • record the reasons you do not want your child adopted
  • let the court know these reasons – you can go to court to explain them
  • An adoption order cannot be made unless the court thinks it is in your child’s best interests.

Adoption without your consent

A court can decide the adoption can go ahead without your consent if:

  • The Court believes that the child would be put at risk if they were not adopted – it will send you the evidence they have been given, e.g. from social services
  • You are incapable of giving consent – e.g. due to a mental disability
  • Please read all the following information to establish if you are eligible to adopt the child/ren;

Frequently asked questions

I would like my new partner to adopt my child

The first issue that many adults tend to forget is that adoption is about, and for, the benefit of the children. What adults want is relevant but the court will not consider this to be an over-riding concern when it comes to making a decision.

Although it is quite natural for you to feel that your family will only be complete if the child were to be adopted by your new partner there are some who would suggest that there are other legal alternatives to adoption that should be considered fully.

I have recently married my partner

You no longer need to be married to adopt the child/ren of your partner.

Do I have to get the other parent’s agreement to the adoption?

If the other parent is the mother;-

You will need her agreement. A court can dispense with the need for her agreement but there have to be very good reasons for them to do so.

If the other parent is the father and he was married to the child’s mother;-

You will need his agreement. A court can dispense with the need for his agreement but there have to be very good reasons for them to do so.

If the other parent is the father and he has parental responsibility;-

You will need his agreement. A court can dispense with the need for his agreement but there have to be very good reasons for them to do so.

Parental Responsibility is usually only obtained in one of four ways: 1. By obtaining a residence order from a court stating the child lives with them, or 2. By having a parental responsibility agreement, or 3. By being appointed guardian to care for the child if a parent dies, or 4. By adopting the child.

If the other parent is the father, but he was not married to the child’s mother, nor has he obtained parental responsibility for the child.

No. His agreement is not required. Parental Responsibility is usually only obtained in one of four ways: 1. By obtaining a residence order from a court stating the child lives with them, or 2. By having a parental responsibility agreement, or 3. By being appointed guardian to care for the child if a parent dies, or 4. By adopting the child.

Will the other parent have to be involved?

Irrespective of the birth parents’ legal status the court will require a report (Schedule 2) to be compiled and wherever possible the wishes of both birth parents will be ascertained and what role they might intend to play in the future in respect of the child. Your current relationship with him or her, or the amount of contact they have with the child will not remove the responsibility for finding out their views, and reporting them back to the court.

But I do not know where the other parent is?

You will have to provide the court with all the relevant information in order for others to try to contact them. They may also be unable to do so and will complete their report stating that this is the case.

But the other parent has not been in contact with their child?

This is not a reason for the social worker compiling the Schedule 2 report not to try to ascertain their wishes in respect of any application to adopt.

But the other parent has not recently / never paid child maintenance?

This is irrelevant. The court will still need to find out their opinions on the proposed adoption.

But the other parent will never agree to the adoption?

The court can dispense with the need for their agreement but there have to be very good reasons for doing so. When applying for the adoption order you can make a statement of fact on the Form A58 Page 3. Here you will have to give the grounds for this request. These ‘grounds’ should be one or more of the following:

  • The parent or guardian cannot be found or is incapable of giving agreement;
  • The parent or guardian is withholding his agreement unreasonably;
  • The parent or guardian has persistently failed without reasonable cause to discharge his parental responsibility for the child; * The parent or guardian has abandoned or neglected the child;
  • The parent or guardian has persistently ill-treated the child or
  • The parent or guardian has seriously ill-treated the child.
  • The information you enter here should not contain your opinion; it should be completely factual and wherever possible, the information should be verifiable by others.

Child Law – What is a Section 37 (s37) report?

Family Solicitors

Our Middlesbrough Solicitor explains;-

When, during any private law proceedings under the Children Act 1989, i.e. proceedings for child contact and child residence, a question arises about the welfare of the child, and it seems to the court that it might be appropriate for a Care Order or Supervision Order to be made, the court will direct the local authority to undertake an investigation into the child’s circumstances and report its findings to the Court.

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Child Law – What is the ‘no order principle’?

Family Solicitors

Our Middlesbrough Family Solicitors explain;-

This is a really important principle that the court must always consider. The court must start from the position that no order shall be made unless the court ‘considers that doing so would be better for the child than making no order at all’.
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Child Law – What is the Children Act 1989?

Family Solicitors

Our Middlesbrough Solicitor explains;-

The Children Act 1989 is the statute (i.e. the law) which states what a court can or cannot do when making orders about children. It covers all different kinds of situations, such as child residence, child contact and changing a child’s name, all the way through to care proceedings and child abduction. Continue Reading

Using the Duty Solicitor

Free Legal Advice at Police Stations

Everyone receives free legal aid to have a solicitor represent them at the police station, regardless of financial circumstances.

Do you know the difference between a duty solicitor and a trusted local solicitor? THERE ISN’T ONE! Most local criminal solicitors are on a rota which means that they are on duty on certain days/nights in case someone needs a criminal solicitor and doesn’t already have one.

But you never have to use a solicitor that you don’t already know if you don’t want to and you never have to use the duty solicitor.

Our specialist Criminal Solicitors live in Middlesbrough and will come straight out to the police station as soon as the Police confirm they are ready to interview.

You always have the right to choose and if you use a duty solicitor at the police station, you can still come to us for any case after that if you want to.

Call outs – 07949 186 589 out of hours or call our Crime Team, during office hours on 01642 293427.

Another great result for our Crime Team

R v W – Historical sexual abuse charges

Another client successfully defended in a 5 day trial which concluded at Teesside Crown Court today. The Jury took only 90 minutes to decide to acquit our client (find him not guilty) on every charge, after hearing evidence over the previous 4 days.  This brought to an end a nightmare for our client, whose life had effectively been put on hold since he was invited to the Police Station to answer allegations of historical sexual abuse.  Since then he had to endure months of waiting to prove his innocence, whilst at the same time having his life disrupted by the involvement of Social Services.

This represented another successful result for the crime team, headed by Paul Watson and the Defence Barrister, Alison Pryor and assisted by our Paralegal, Emma Richardson.  It represented the culmination of months of meticulous and dedicated preparation by the team to ensure that our client’s version of events was properly put before the Jury.

What is a Contact Activity Order?

Family Solicitors

Our Middlesbrough Family Solicitor explains;-

If a judge has ordered you to so something within Children Act proceedings, this is often called a Contact Activity Order. This Order can cover issues such as attending a parenting course or attending family mediation.
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Child Law: What is a Section 7 (s7) Report?

Our Middlesbrough Family Solicitor explains;-

A court may ask the local authority for a welfare report when they are considering any private law application under the Children Act 1989 i.e. an application for residence, contact, prohibited steps order or specific issues order.
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