The process of step-parent adoption in Ontario

Step-Parent Adoption

Step-parent adoption is the process of a step-parent formally adopting their spouse’s biological or adopted child. It establishes a legal relationship between the step-parent and the child giving them the same rights and responsibilities as any other parent. The process involves filing an application with the court and receiving approval from a judge before becoming finalized.


Adoption Laws in Ontario

Adoption legislation in Ontario is set out in the Child and Family Services Act, which states that an application for step-parent adoption may be made by a person who is married to or in a conjugal relationship with the parent of the child and has resided with the child for at least one year prior. The court must also consider various factors including whether the adoption is in the best interests of the child if there is any risk of harm or neglect to the child, and if any significant disruption to their life will occur as a result of this step-parent adoption.


Applying for Step-Parent Adoption

Applying for step-parent adoption in Ontario is relatively straightforward and involves several steps. The first step involves filing an application with the court and providing any information that may be required concerning both you and your spouse. This includes things such as proof of identity, residence, and marriage. The next step is to appear before a judge who will assess the application based on all relevant factors. Lastly, the adoption order must be approved and finalized by a judge before it can become legally binding.


Who Can Apply

Step-parent adoption in Ontario can only be completed if both the step-parent and their spouse have been married for at least six months. The age of both applicants must be 18 or greater, with the exception of special cases where youth aged 16 or 17 may also apply. Additionally, the parent of the child to be adopted must also consent to the adoption in writing. Lastly, all parties involved must reside in Ontario at the time of application submission.


Documents and Paperwork Required

In addition to providing the documents listed above, all applicants must also submit a completed step-parent adoption application form. This includes information such as the birth dates and addresses of both spouses and the child, as well as their current marital status, the reason for the adoption request, and more. The application must be signed by all parties involved in the adoption process. Additionally, applicants may need to provide additional paperwork depending on their individual case or situation.


Cost of Filing the Application

The cost of filing a step-parent adoption application in Ontario depends on the individual case. Generally, it costs between $500 and $1000 to file the application and any associated paperwork. This amount does not include legal fees for counsel or any other related fees. Additionally, applicants may need to pay additional fees associated with their particular case or situation.


Court Proceedings for Step-Parent Adoption

After filing the application, a court date will be set to review the details of the adoption request. At this hearing, both spouses must appear before a judge and answer any questions related to their application. The judge may also speak with the child or ask for additional documents, depending on the situation. Once all information is collected, a decision will be made regarding whether the step-parent adoption should proceed.


Receiving Court Approval

Upon receiving court approval for the step-parent adoption, a Child Adoption Report will be created to record the new legal relationship between the parent and child. Additionally, a Certificate of Adoption will be sent to both parties in order to document their new legal relationship. This certificate is necessary for both parties when applying for government services or documents such as passports.


Notification to Biological Parent(s)

The court will notify the biological parent(s) of any step-parent adoption taking place. This notification will inform them that their parental rights and responsibilities have been terminated, or that they have entered into a new legal relationship with the child. Depending on the circumstances, they may be requested to appear in court to provide confirmation of consent or deny any objections.


Consequences of a Step-Parent Adoption

A step-parent adoption has far-reaching implications for the adoptive family. The child will gain extra financial, emotional and legal support from the adoptive parent, and their relationship to the other members of the family will be legally recognized. The biological parent no longer has rights or responsibilities over their child, though they may still remain emotionally involved in their life. The adoptive parent is now responsible for any decisions or arrangements concerning the child’s upbringing and welfare.


Legal Rights and Responsibilities of the Step-Parent Adoptee

Upon completion of a step-parent adoption, the child gains all rights and responsibilities that come with the legal status of being adopted. This includes the right to inherit from their adoptive parent, the ability to have their birth certificate changed to show their new name, and access to medical and travel documents as if they were a member of their adoptive family. The new adoptee is also subject to laws governing minors, such as age restrictions for activities like voting or purchasing alcohol. It’s important for both parties involved in a step-parent adoption to understand these implications before entering into the process.



Step-parent adoptions can provide a sense of security to both the parent and child, and offer a lifelong bond between the two. It’s important for those considering this type of adoption to understand the legal ramifications and weigh them against the positive outcome it can potentially bring. With careful thought and consideration, a step-parent adoption can be an immensely rewarding experience for all involved.



If you’re looking for an experienced family lawyer in Mississauga who can assist with your step-parent adoption application please contact us today – we’d be happy to discuss your needs and explain the details of how we can help.

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