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Discharge of adoption

A person may apply to the County Court of Victoria to undo the legal effect of an adoption order. This is known as a ‘discharge of adoption'.  

If the Court makes an order to discharge an adoption:

  • the adoption ceases to exist and
  • the person is no longer an adopted person or legally connected to the family that adopted them. They become legally reconnected to their birth family.

Grounds for an adoption to be discharged

An adoption may be discharged if the Court finds that the adoption application was improperly obtained or if special circumstances exist.

Examples of a special circumstance include, but are not limited to the breakdown of the relationship between the adoptive parents, birth parents or the adopted child/adult or restoration of an individual’s birth identity.

In addition:

  • the discharge must promote the welfare and interests of the adopted child/adult
  • the consent of all parties is not required to discharge an adoption
  • there is no time limitation in applying for a discharge of adoption.

Eligibility to apply to discharge an adoption order

Persons eligible to apply to the Court to discharge an adoption order include: 

  • the adopted child/adult (must be over the age of 18)
  • the child/adult's natural parent
  • the child/adult's adoptive parents
  • Secretary of the department or the principal officer of the approved agency by which the adoption was arranged.

How to apply

The information contained on this page is not legal advice. It is recommended that the person considering applying for the discharge of an adoption order seeks independent legal advice and/or representation. You may wish to access the Law Institute of Victoria's 'Find Your Lawyer Referral Service'(opens in a new window)

Before applying to discharge an adoption:

  • consider what it will mean for your legal relationships, financial circumstances and inheritance rights
  • decide whether to seek legal representation or apply to the Court yourself.