New Adoption Act Makes Adopting Adults Easier

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Dobinson Davey Clifford Simpson have recently been involved in assisting clients lobby the government for changes to the existing adoption laws in the ACT. Amendments to the ACT Adoption Act have now been passed which deal with the highly sensitive and emotional issue of adults who wish to be adopted.

What are the changes?

Most people think adoption only relates to minors. However, many adults also wish to be adopted by the people who have raised them. The previous laws have placed significant restrictions on this causing distress for those adults who want to be adopted by their “social” parent.

Prior to the amendments to the Adoption Act, an adult who was single could be adopted but only in ‘exceptional circumstances’. An adult who was married could never be adopted. This discriminated against married people who wanted to be adopted.

The recent changes now make it possible for married adult children to be adopted. This brings the ACT laws into line with other Australian states which permit married adults to be adopted. The changes also remove the requirement for ‘exceptional circumstances’ to exist before an adult can be adopted.

When do the changes start?

The amendments to the Adoption Act were passed in Parliament on 25 February 2009 and it is expected that the Act will come into force shortly.

Why are the changes important?

The changes permit married adult children to be able to take the significant and symbolic step of being adopted by their ‘social’ parent. The acknowledgement of adoption means that the “adult child” is viewed in the same way, and has the same legal rights, as a biological adult child.

How were we involved in the changes?

We have worked closely with our clients and also with all sides of politics to ensure bipartisan support for the amendments. We were also instrumental in providing the legal background information to bring about an understanding as to why a change was needed.