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Parenting orders and adoption

Information about how the adoption of a child affects parenting orders.

  • The law changed on 6 May 2024
  • This content will be updated as soon as is possible

In the interim please consult the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia website or the Victoria Legal Aid Website.

Parenting orders can be made in favour of people who are not the biological parents of the child and these orders are the usual method of giving legal responsibility for a child to a person who is not a parent such as a step-parent or a relative of the child.

The state court will not grant adoption orders unless satisfied that special circumstances exist so that parenting orders will not be sufficient to provide for the welfare of the child.

See s. 11(5)(6)—Adoption Act 1984 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

What happens to existing parenting orders?

If a child is adopted, any parenting order and/or parenting responsibility stops being in force and the child ceases to be 'a child of the marriage' under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth).

Parental responsibility ends once a child is adopted unless:

  • the adoption was made in favour of a prescribed adopting parent and
  • leave was not granted for the commencement of adoption proceedings.

See ss.60CB, 60G, 61E, 60HA—Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)(opens in a new window).

Family Court may grant leave for adoption proceedings

If parenting orders are in place in relation to the child, the Family Court may grant leave for adoption proceedings to commence by a prescribed adopting parent. The court will only do this if satisfied that it is in the best interests of the child.

See s. 60G—Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)(opens in a new window).

Who is a prescribed adopting parent?

A prescribed adopting parent in relation to a child is defined to mean any of the following:

  • a parent of the child
  • the spouse, or de facto partner of the parent of a child, or
  • the parent of a child and their spouse or de facto partner.

See s. 4—Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)(opens in a new window).

More information


Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)

  • s. 4—defines a prescribed adopting parent as a parent, spouse or de facto of a parent or the parent of the child and their spouse or de facto
  • s. 60CB—child's best interests paramount consideration in making a parenting order
  • s. 60G—family court may grant leave for adoption proceedings by a prescribed adopting parent
  • s. 61E—effect of adoption on parental responsibility
  • s. 60HA—children of de facto partners
  • s. 65G—special conditions for making a parenting order about who a child will live or the allocation of parental responsibility by consent in favour of the non-parent
  • s. 65J—effect of adoption on a parenting order
  • s. 66V—if a child is adopted, any existing maintenance order stops being in force

See Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)(opens in a new window).

Adoption Act 1984 (Vic)

  • s. 3—defines de facto relationships and de facto spouse
  • s. 10—who may be adopted
  • s. 10A—who can make an application for adoption order
  • s. 11—persons in whose favour adoption orders may be made
  • s. 12—orders in favour of relatives

See Adoption Act 1984 (Vic)(opens in a new window).