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Detailed Practice Notes written by our Professional Support Lawyers, guiding you through the key issues in each topic.
Adoption - overviewGeneral principles
The Adoption and Children Act 2002 (ACA 2002) embodies the law on adoption and was aimed at improving adoption support to encourage more people to come forward to adopt. It placed a duty on local authorities to make arrangements for the provision of adoption support services to promote adoption as a means of giving looked after children the chance to live in permanent homes.
The framework of the ACA 2002 is to:
simplify the adoption process
make the child’s welfare a paramount consideration in decisions on adoption
make provision for the process of adoption and the conditions for the making of adoption orders, including measures for placement for adoption with consent and placement orders
The ACA 2002 introduced a framework for authorising the placement of children for adoption, either with parental consent or under a placement order.
There is a legislative distinction between the local authority acting as adoption agency and the same authority bringing care proceedings. The child’s case must be placed before the local authority’s adoption panel to decide whether to recommend that the child should be placed for adoption.
There are certain circumstances when a local authority is obliged to apply for a placement order and where they have a discretion to apply for a placement order.
Before the ACA 2002 under the ‘clean break’ principle courts discouraged making contact orders linked to adoption, however the Court of Appeal has signalled a reappraisal of this position and in some cases may need to make contact orders linked to placement or adoption orders.
The court has power to make a contact order itself, even if no-one has applied, in considering making a placement order. Contact orders under ACA 2002, s 26 cease to have effect when the child is adopted.
Local authority solicitors will generally advise about adoption applications in three situations
children who are the subject of placement orders, usually in the context of care proceedings
children being placed for adoption with parental consent, where there will usually not be any prior court proceedings
private applications for adoption, for children living with the applicants where the child was not placed with them by an adoption agency
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