Adoption, like all family law matters involving children, is determined on the basis of the best interests of the child. This extends to every aspect of a child's care, including parenting orders and other long-term legal structures put in place to care for a child.
In adoption cases where both parents have yet to confirm they endorse this move, because they can't be contacted for example, the courts will need to be satisfied that any decision to override this authority is justified.
This principle was recently tested in a case before the NSW Supreme Court. In the legal dispute, the Court was required to determine whether or not to override the consent required from the child's father which would allow the adoption to progress.
The parents of the child separated before the child was born, and subsequently both the mother and a social worker had attempted to get in contact with the father, with limited success. The mother had already consented to the adoption, and the plaintiff, an adoption services agency, sought orders to override the requirement that the father consent to a formal adoption.
Under the Adoption Act 2000 (NSW), the requirement for parental consent for a child to be adopted can be overruled, provided there is sufficient evidence that to do so would be in the child's best interests.
In this case, the Judge ruled against the plaintiff, and did not dispense with the requirement that the father's permission be granted in order for the child to be adopted. This decision was reached as the courts were not satisfied that taking this step would be in the best interests of the child.
The courts did confirm that it was in the child's best interest to be placed in a long-term living arrangement promptly in order to limit the emotional upheaval of moving the child between different carers. However, given that the father was not actively holding up the adoption process, the Judge was satisfied that overriding his permission was warranted.
For others involved in the adoption process, this case underscores how important considerations of a child's best interests are when determining an adoption case. Understanding this requirement will be essential for anyone involved in the adoption process.
To learn more about proceeding with an adoption, or any other area of family law relating to children, make sure to consult with a family lawyer.