Can you legally adopt someone who is over 18?

Adoption is usually associated with young children, but it is also possible for adults to be adopted. Often, this is the case in particular relationships, such as step parent and children, who wish to legally acknowledge, or formalise an existing familial relationship.

In ACT and NSW, you can be adopted by an individual, or a couple, if you are over 18, providing your circumstances fit the legal requirements.

ACT requirements for adoption

The Adoption Act 1993 in the ACT requires that applicant parent/s must ordinarily be an ACT resident and that the person to be adopted must be present in the ACT. It is also necessary that the applicant parent/s has brought up, maintained and educated the person. The adoption can still occur, even if the person has previously been adopted in the ACT or elsewhere. The Court requires that the applicant parent/s is reputable and that both parties properly consent to the adoption.

NSW requirements for adoption

In NSW, the Adoption Act 2000 requires that the person to be adopted must have been cared for, prior to turning 18, by the applicant parent/s. The Act requires both the applicant/s and the person to be in the state of NSW, at least for 3 months immediately before the application is filed. The Court is generally concerned with protecting the best interests of the child and that this will be encouraged from the adoption – but how does this apply when it is an adult being adopted? The answer is, if both the applicant parent/s and the person being adopted consent, the person being adopted is capable and an application supports the best interests of the person to be adopted.

After a successful application, a new birth certificate can be issued to show the newly adopted parent/s.

When can an adult not be adopted?

In order to adopt, your circumstances must fit the legal requirements. For example, in the ACT, someone may not be adopted if the Court believes it is primarily for the purpose of evading Australia’s immigration laws. Another reason why the Court might not approve an application in the ACT is if there are concerns regarding consent of the parties; that is consent being fraudulent, improper or obtained under duress. In NSW, an application may be rejected if the relationship does not fit the required criteria, such as if the person was over 18 when they began to be cared for, or if they were never cared for, by the applicant parent/s.

For more information on adoption in ACT or NSW, or to make an appointment to discuss any queries, please do not hesitate to contact our Family Law Team.

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