Landmark Human Rights Act choice in Step-Mother or father adoption case

January 16, 2024by Naomi Cramer


Jennifer Moore, Authorized Director, and Melissa Bunting, Solicitor, at Rayden Solicitors acted on this novel and landmark Human Rights Act choice in a step-parent adoption case earlier than the President of the family Regulation Division on the Royal Courts of Justice.

Background and novel level of legislation

The case involved an software for a step-father to undertake his step-son (herein ‘H’), who was born in 2006 and was due to this fact aged 17 on the time the proceedings concluded.

H had by no means had a significant relationship along with his organic father. His organic father separated from his organic mom earlier than he was born. H’s organic father was not named on H’s start certificates, and so he didn’t have Parental Accountability for H.

The one household H had ever recognized comprised of his organic mom and his step-father, who his mom had married when he was simply 2 years’ previous.

Tragically, H’s mom died in 2020. H was left in a precarious place; his step-father had no authorized relationship with him and his mom had died.

H shared his needs and emotions with the Court; he was unequivocal in his view: he wished to be adopted by the step-father; the one father he had ever recognized.

Sadly, on the face of it, a step-parent adoption was not going to be potential.

Part 51 (2) of the Adoption and children Act 2002 (‘ACA 2002’) permits for step-parent adoptions and reads as follows:

            “51       Adoption by one individual

(2) An adoption order could also be made on the appliance of 1 individual who has attained the age of 21 years if the court is happy that the individual is the companion of a parent to the individual to be adopted”.

As H’s mom had tragically died in 2020, the step-father was not an individual who “is” the companion of H’s mom. He “was” the companion of H’s mom. He was H’s mom’s Widower.

The problem with utilizing a standard adoption Order, versus an software for a step-parent adoption Order, was the impact of extinguishing H’s authorized relationship along with his late mom’s household – a standard adoption Order would have severed his authorized relationship along with his total wider maternal household and along with his late mom.

The case turned on the query of whether or not the Court might “learn down” beneath Part 3 of the Human Rights Act 1998 (‘HRA 1998’), in order to, embody the phrases “or a widow/widower of the child’s parent who was the parent’s companion instantly earlier than the parent’s demise”.

In H’s case, each he and his step-father each supported the making of a step-parent adoption Order, as did the Native Authority – no social gathering was arguing the counter case- i.e. saying that the Court mustn’t “learn down” or contemplating the potential coverage causes which will have led the President to think about it was not within the public curiosity to “learn down”. Due to this fact the President appointed a solicitor from CAFCASS Authorized to behave as an amicus curiae. An Amicus curiae is a lawyer who isn’t representing a celebration to the case, however who’s appointed to help the Court; on this case, that meant contemplating the counter case/ case in opposition to H and his step-father. 

Final result

The Closing Listening to was listed on 12 July 2023.

As talked about above, H’s needs and emotions had been unequivocal, he wished the step-parent adoption to succeed; He wished the person he knew and noticed as his father to be his father in legislation, with out having to sacrifice his authorized relationship along with his late start mom.

The Native Authority supported the step-parent Adoption Order.

The amicus famous that “it’s unlikely that Parliament would have supposed for a child to be positioned at an obstacle on account of the tragic and unhappy demise of his/her parent”.

Accordingly, all 4 Counsel (specifically, counsel performing on behalf of the step-father, on behalf of H, on behalf of the Native Authority and Counsel instructed as an amicus) invited the Court to seek out, having regard to the step-parent and H’s Article 8 Rights (proper to a personal and household life beneath the European Conference of Human Rights), it’s potential to learn down part 51 (2) ACA 2002 to incorporate the phrases “or a widow/widower of the child’s parent who was the parent’s companion instantly earlier than the parent’s demise”.

The President was persuaded that the step required to “learn down” further phrases into part 51 (2) of the ACA 2002 with the intention to grant the appliance, utilizing the jurisdiction of Part 3 of the HRA 1998 was solely justified in order to permit the appliance to proceed to the making of an order, however the demise of H’s mom.

In follow which means H and children in H’s footwear is not going to be confronted with the selection of getting their relationship with their step-parent legally recognised through an adoption Order and severing their authorized relationship with their late organic parent and all of their prolonged household on that aspect, or just by no means having their relationship with their step-parent legally recognised.

This landmark choice allowed H to have each – i.e. he maintained his relationship along with his late start mom and prolonged maternal household, and was adopted by his step-father.

Novel Factors of Regulation

The President’s Judgement, which may be accessed right here, has amended the interpretation of part 51 (2) of the Adoption and Kids Act 2002 to incorporate further phrases, specifically, “or a widow/widower of the child’s parent who was the parent’s companion instantly earlier than the parent’s demise”. The Judgment, due to this fact, paves the best way for future step-parent adoptions by widows or widowers.

In case you are affected by the problems raised on this article, or would really like additional recommendation on this topic please contact our workforce of household legislation consultants.



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by Naomi Cramer

Auckland Lawyer for FIRST TIME Offenders Seeking to Avoid a Conviction. Family Law Expert in Child Care Custody Disputes. If you are facing Court Naomi will make you feel comfortable every step of the way.  As a consummate professional your goals become hers, with customer service as our top priority. It has always been Naomi’s philosophy to approach whatever you do in life with bold enthusiasm and pure dedication. Complement this with her genuine passion for equal justice and rights for all and you have the formula for success. Naomi is a highly skilled Court lawyer having practised for more than 20 years. She serves the greater Auckland region and can travel to represent clients throughout NZ With extensive experience, an analytical eye for detail, and continuing legal education Naomi’s skill set will maximise your legal rights whilst offering a holistic approach that best fits your individual needs. This is further enhanced with her high level of support and understanding. Naomi will redefine what you expect from your legal professional, facilitating a seamless experience from start to finish.   Her approachable and adaptive demeanor serves her well when working with the diverse cultures that make up the Auckland region. Blend her open and honest approach to her transparent process and you can see why she routinely delivers the satisfying results her clients deserve. If you want to maximise your legal rights, we recommend you book an appointment with Naomi today so she can detail the steps for you to achieve your goals. 

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