Adoption and cohabiting couples


The Adoption (Amendment) Act 2017 allows any couple who are cohabiting together for a minimum of 3 years, or who are in a civil partnership, to apply to adopt a child.

The Act also provides for a step-parent to adopt their partner’s child while their partner retains their parental rights.


Any couple who are living together in a civil partnership, or who are cohabiting together in a relationship for a minimum of 3 years, can apply to adopt a child.

Previously, only married couples could apply to jointly adopt a child. It was possible for one person to adopt a child, however, their partner had no legal rights in relation to the child if they were not married.


Adoption transfers parental rights and responsibilities from the original parents to the adoptive parents.

Under the Adoption (Amendment) Act 2017, a person can apply to adopt their partner’s child. Their partner can consent to the adoption and still keep their parental rights and responsibilities – sharing them with their partner after the adoption order is made. The child must have lived together with their parent and prospective step-parent for a minimum of 2 years.

Previously, if you wanted to adopt your partner’s child, your partner would also have to apply and you would adopt the child as a couple.


When a child is being adopted there is a requirement to consult the birth father. If the birth father is a guardian his consent is required. You can read more about adoption and consent here.

How to apply

If you have an enquiry about adoption in Ireland, contact one of the accredited adoption bodies or your local Tusla adoption office.

Where to apply

Adoption Authority of Ireland

Shelbourne House
Shelbourne Road
Dublin 4

Tel: (01) 230 9300
Page edited: 7 December 2017