Prof Rob George in Re H (Step-Parent Adoption: Human Rights) [2023] EWHC 3186 (Fam). A ground-breaking judgment.

15th Jan 2024 | News, Cases

Prof Rob George, instructed by Rayden Solicitors, acting pro bono represented the applicant step-father.

The law on step-parent adoption has been changed by the ground-breaking judgment from the President of the Family Division in the above case.

Rob successfully argued that the court should use the Human Rights Act 1998 to modify provisions of the Adoption and Children Act 2002, to allow a step-parent adoption to be made in a case where the child’s natural parent had died before the application was made.

The President accepted Rob’s argument that the court should read words into the end of s51(2) of the 2002 Act. The words in brackets are therefore added, and the section now reads:

“An adoption order may be made on the application of one person who has attained the age of 21 years if the court is satisfied that the person is the partner of a parent of the person to be adopted (or was the partner until the time of the parent’s death).”

This important development clarifies children’s ability to have their family relationships with step-parents in the event of their birth parent’s death. While a sole-person adoption order was always available, that order would destroy the child’s legal relationship with their deceased birth parent and their wider kin relationships from that parent, such as grandparents and cousins.

The decision in Re H allows the child’s important family ties to be maintained while also recognising the reality of the relationship with a step-parent.

Rob said “I am delighted to have been able to help this family to get the right result for them, and also to change the law for other families in similar situations. The Human Rights Act was used in this case to put right an oversight in the law.

To read the full anonymised judgment, please click here: H (Step-Parent Adoption: Human Rights), Re – Find case law (

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