Victoria

An adopted person can apply to the Victorian County Court for a discharge of an adoption order made under section 19(1) of the Adoption Act 1984. There are two grounds under which an application can be made, these are:

(a) That the adoption order or consent for the purposes of the adoption order was obtained by fraud, duress or other improper means: or

(b) That special circumstances exist why the adoption order should be discharged (this includes a reference to an irretrievable breakdown of the relationship between the adoptive parents and the adopted person).

It is also advisable to contact FIND who can explain to you the process and fees involved
1800 130 225 (toll free)
findduty@dhhs.vic.gov.au
PO Box 588, Collins Street West
Melbourne Victoria 3000

It is recommended applicants engage independent legal advice.

Click here to Search for Legal Aid in Victoria

Current Victorian ADOPTION ACT 1984 – SECT 19

Discharge of adoption orders

(1)     An eligible person may apply to the Court for an order discharging an order for the adoption of a child made under this Act or any corresponding previous enactment on the grounds—

        (a)     that the adoption order or a consent for the purposes of the adoption order was obtained by fraud, duress or other improper means; or

        (b)     that special circumstances exist why the adoption order should be discharged

(2)     In subsection (1)—

  1. 19(2)(a) amended by No. 46/1998 
    s. 7(Sch. 1).

        (a)     “eligible person” means the adopted child to whom the adoption order relates, a natural parent of the adopted child, an adoptive parent of the adopted child, the Secretary or the principal officer of the approved agency by which the adoption was arranged; and

        (b)     a reference to special circumstances includes a reference to an irretrievable breakdown of the relationship between the adoptive parents and the adopted person.

    (3)     Where an application is made under subsection (1), the Court shall, if satisfied that there may be grounds on which an order may be made, direct that an investigation be made into the circumstances under which the application is made.

  1. 19(4) amended by Nos 69/1989 s. 11(1)(a), 46/1998 
    s. 7(Sch. 1), 32/2015 s. 5.

    (4)     An investigation under subsection (3) shall be made by the Secretary and, where the Court so directs, by a person nominated by the Secretary to the Department of Justice and Regulation.

  1. 19(5) amended by No. 32/2000 s. 14(1).

    (5)     The Court shall, after consideration of a report of an investigation carried out under subsection (3), if it is satisfied that the adoption order should be discharged, make an order for the discharge of the adoption order.

  1. 19(5A) inserted by No. 32/2000 s. 14(2).

    (5A)     The Court shall not make an order for the discharge of an adoption order unless the Court is satisfied that the welfare and interests of the child would be promoted by the discharge of the adoption order.

    (6)     Where the Court makes an order discharging an adoption order, then, unless the Court otherwise orders, any consent given under this Act for the purposes of the adoption of the child ceases to have effect.

    (7)     Where the Court makes an order under this section, it may, at the same time or subsequently, make such consequential or ancillary orders as it thinks necessary in the interests of justice or the welfare and interests of the child, including orders relating to—

        (a)     the name of the child;

        (b)     the ownership of property;

        (c)     the custody or guardianship of the child; or

        (d)     the domicile of the child.

    (8)     Upon the making of an order under this section discharging an order for the adoption of a child, but subject to any order made under subsection (7) and to section 53(2), the rights, privileges, duties, liabilities and relationships of the child and of all other persons shall be the same as if the adoption order had not been made, but without prejudice to—

        (a)     anything lawfully done;

        (b)     the consequences of anything unlawfully done; or

        (c)     any proprietary right or interest that became vested in any person—

whilst the adoption order was in force.

  1. 19(9) inserted by No. 32/2000 s. 14(3).

    (9)     The Court may allow any of the following persons to appear and to address the Court (either personally or by a legal practitioner) at the hearing of an application for the discharge of an order for the adoption of a child

        (a)     the child;

        (b)     a natural parent of the child;

        (c)     an adoptive parent of the child;

        (d)     the Secretary;

        (e)     if the adoption was arranged by an adoption agency, the principal officer of that agency;

        (f)     any other person whom the Court determines has a sufficient interest in the matter.