ADOPTION OF STEP DAUGHTER

Published by The Daily Star on 1st November, 2009 (Link Above)

This week your advocate is Barrister Omar Khan Joy of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh and Head of The Legal Counsel. His professional interests include commercial law, corporate law, family law, land law, constitutional law, banking law, arbitration and intellectual property laws. Our civil and criminal law experts from reputed law chambers will provide the legal summary advice.

Reader’s query
My wife has a daughter from her previous marriage. She’ll be turning 3 in a couple of weeks. Lately my wife has been urging me to legally adopt her. My wife’s previous husband is sort of a trouble maker and I really don’t want him anywhere near my family. I would like to know about the advantages and disadvantages of a legal adoption with regards to my situation. We are planning on having our own children and I would like to avoid problems with regards to property distribution in future. Also, if I legally do adopt my daughter is there any possible way that he can claim her or her property?

Response
Thank you for asking us to provide you with our opinion in the given issue. I understand that your wife is insisting you to adopt her child from her previous marriage. In the given situation, you are desirous to know firstly, whether and how you can adopt the child; and secondly, the possible impacts of adopting the child on the future distribution of your properties to your legal successors.

As far as the first issue is concerned, please note that the Mohammedan law does not recognize the concept of adoption. Accordingly, even if you are desirous to adopt the child in issue, there will be no lawful method of doing the same. I hope you will be able to make your wife understand the legal position in Bangladesh with regard to the adoption of a child.

However, I must make it clear that though adoption is not possible, obtaining custody of the child may be possible. Naturally, the mother would remain the lawful custodian of the daughter until it attains the puberty. However, such right of your wife might have been extinguished with her re-marriage. At this moment, if she is desirous to take the custody of the child, she should first request the father of the child regarding the same. If no consensus can be reached, she can file a suit before the appropriate court seeking the custody of the child.

Secondly, as I have already stated that adoption is not allowed under the Mohammedan law, there is no possibility that the child would become the legal heir of your property. Even in case where your wife got the custody of the child this will have no impact on your property as the child being a step-child will never be able to be your legal heir.

I hope that the aforesaid brief discussion on the laws will help you to assess your legal position. I strongly believe that you will be able to take the right decision in consultation with your wife to the best interests of the child as well as your family.

For detailed query contact omar@legalcounselbd.com