Stepchild adoption

Stepchild adoption is the adoption of a child by the partner of the biological parent (e.g. the adoption of a stepson by the stepfather).

Since 1 August 2013, stepchild adoption has also been possible for same-sex couples. It is also applicable to adoptions in respect of which the written adoption contract was entered into before that date but judicial authorisation was refused. Legally, the relations between the biological parent and the child under family continue to exist if the child is adopted by the same-sex partner of that parent.

Even if they do not adopt the stepchild, stepparents or persons cohabitingGerman text with the parent are obliged to support the child. More detailed information on the subject of ‘cooperation and obligations of a stepparent’ can also be found at oesterreich.gv.at. However, stepchildren are not entitled to maintenance and do not have a right of inheritance vis-à-vis the stepparent unless they are adopted.

If

  • a spouse,
  • registered partner or
  • cohabitant

adopts the child of his or her

  • spouse,
  • registered partner or
  • cohabitant,

the relations with the other parent and his or her relatives will cease to exist. This means that the adopting stepparent legally replaces the other biological parent. From this point on, the adopted stepchild therefore has a maintenance claim and a right of inheritance vis-à-vis the adopting stepparent.

The child’s claim to maintenance and a dowry vis-à-vis the biological parent then exists only in so far as the adoptive parent and the ‘remaining’ biological parent are not in a position to provide them. More detailed information on the subject of ‘rights and obligations of biological parents’ can also be found at oesterreich.gv.at

From the child’s 14th birthday onwards, adoption is possible only with his or her consent. From the fifth birthday onwards, the child has a right to be heard by the court, unless he or she has already lived with the adopting person since that date.

In principle, stepchild adoption is possible only if both biological parents consent to it. However, the court may substitute the consent if there are no justified reasons for refusing it.

Legal basis

Sections 191 to 203 of the Allgemeines bürgerliches Gesetzbuch (ABGB)

Translated by the European Commission
Last update: 25 January 2021

Responsible for the content: Federal Ministry of Justice