It is intended under adoption legislation that adoption orders will rarely be granted to a relative or step-parent (see “Adoptions by a spouse or relative”). It is now generally recognised that the preferred alternative for people in this situation wishing to adopt is to apply for a parenting order from the Family Court.
Victoria has given power to the Commonwealth Government to make orders in relation to ex-nuptial children. This, and the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (as amended), allows people other than the parents to apply for parenting orders (see Parental responsibilities and child support, for more information) from the Family Court (third-party applications) whether or not the child is a child of a marriage. These orders would usually be made with the agreement of the natural parents of the child. Such orders from the Family Court must take account of the wishes of the child and may include provision for contact by parents or other persons.
The court may require the parties to attend counselling and consider a report in order to ensure that the arrangements are in the child’s best interests.