Ruth Cabeza in X v X & Anor (Time Barred Adoption) [2024] EWHC 364 (Fam)


14th Mar 2024 | Cases


Ruth was instructed by The International Family Law Group LLP for the Applicant stepfather in X v X & Anor (Time Barred Adoption) [2024] EWHC 364 (Fam). This case involved consideration of the court’s power to abridge time for notice to a local authority pursuant to s.44(3) of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 (ACA 2002). The facts of the case were that the child had been adopted by his stepfather in Ukraine in 2015. A foreign adoption order is recognised as an overseas adoption pursuant to s.66 of the ACA 2002 if it takes place in a country on the Designated List. The Ukraine is not on that list. Accordingly, the adoption was not automatically recognised as creating the parent child relationship in this jurisdiction. The step-father therefore sought to adopt in England.

S.44(3) ACA requires a party to give at least three months notice of their intention to apply for an adoption order to the local authority in which they live before they are entitled to apply for an adoption order. In addition, s.49(4) ACA requires any application for an adoption order to be issued before a child turns 18 years of age. Unfortunately, in this case the family did not discover that the Ukrainian adoption order was not recognised in England until two and a half months before the child’s 18th birthday. The adopter gave notice to the local authority the same day he received legal advice, and the court was asked to abridge the period of notice under s.44(3) ACA 2002.

The court considered earlier cases, including Re A (A Child: Adoption Time Limits S44(3)) (Rev 1) [2020] EWHC 3296 (Fam), where similar issues had arisen due to a failure to comply with the strict rigours of s.44.(3) ACA 2002, and was satisfied that it was entitled to give a purposive construction to this provision and that accordingly, having regard to the particular facts of this case, the failure to comply with the lower time limit in s.44(3) was not a bar to the making of the adoption order.

This case was reported in Local Government Lawyer.


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