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Applying for the adoption of an adult

You can accept (adopt) an adult person as a child if you want a parent-child relationship with the person and this is morally justified. This is accepted in particular if there is already a parent-child relationship between you as the adopter and the adult person; for example, in the case of a stepchild or foster child. If such a relationship does not yet exist, there must be such a strong emotional connection that a relationship similar to the parent-child relationship can be expected. In addition, the assumption must appear morally justified in view of the purpose pursued. This means that the request for acceptance must not violate a moral prohibition and/or pursue exclusively a substantive purpose, such as the avoidance of inheritance tax or the establishment of a right of residence.

In order to adopt the adult as a family member, you and the person concerned must file an application with the family court.

The adoption of adults is basically an adoption with a weak effect. This means that the family relationships of the adopted adult to his biological family are not abolished, only the newly created relationship with the adopters is added.

Under certain conditions and on request, adoption with further legal consequences, such as those applicable to the adoption of minors, is also possible. This is also referred to as a "full adoption" or adoption with a "strong effect". This would result in an almost complete legal integration of the adult into your family. This means that the family relationship and thus, among other things, all inheritance and maintenance obligations towards the biological parents are abolished. In the case of stepchild adoption, this does not apply to the continuing relationship to the remaining parent.

Process flow

You must submit the necessary documents and the applications (acceptors and acceptors) in writing to the locally competent family court. You can also commission a notary with the submission.

The court then examines whether all the necessary conditions for adoption are met, such as:

  • what is the relationship to the person to be assumed
  • whether the assumption is morally justified
  • whether the adopter has reached the minimum age necessary for adoption (completion of the 21st or 25th year of life)
  • whether there is a sufficient age gap to the person to be assumed
  • whether overriding interests of third parties preclude adoption; for example, the biological children of the adopter or the person to be accepted or the parents of the person to be accepted.

To this end, the court hears, among other things, the parties involved and, if necessary, other persons.
If the conditions for an adult adoption are met, the court pronounces the acceptance of the adult by order.

Competent authority

The family court decides on the application for acceptance at its locally competent district court.


  • You may accept an adult as a child if the assumption is morally justified. In other words, the request for acceptance is based on an existing parent-child relationship or a comparably strong inner connection and does not violate a moral prohibition and/or does not exclusively pursue a material purpose. This is the case, for example, if the person to be adopted has already lived in your family as a minor child.
  • The adoption must not be opposed by the overriding interests of third parties, for example your biological children.
  • According to case law, as a rule, there should be an age gap (at least 15 years) corresponding to a parent-child ratio.
  • The applications and, if necessary, necessary consents (for example, of the spouses) must be in notarized form.

Which documents are required?

  • notarized application of the adopter and the person of legal age; applications shall not be subject to any condition or timing
  • if the adopter is married or partnered, a notarized declaration of consent of the spouse or life partner
  • if necessary, the family court may request any other necessary documents; for example, proof of civil status (such as birth or marriage certificates)

What are the fees?

The following are required:

  • Notary fees
  • Legal expenses
  • lawyer's fees, if applicable

The respective amount depends on the individual case.

What deadlines do I have to pay attention to?

There is no deadline.

Applications / forms

Forms available: No
Written form required: Yes
Informal application possible: No
Personal appearance necessary: No, not with regard to the submission to the court, but when notarizing the application before the notary (highly personal application).

Online services available: No


It is possible to file a complaint.


The text was automatically translated based on the German content.

Technically approved by

Lower Saxony Ministry of Justice

Professionally released on


competent Bodies

Amtsgericht Papenburg

Address: Hauptkanal links 28 , 26871 Papenburg
Postal address: Post Office Box 1152
Telephone: 04961 924-0
Fax: 04961 924-155
Building Access:
elevator available : unknown
wheelchair-accessible : unknown

Data protection information

Gemeinde Rhede (Ems) - Ordnungsamt/Gewerbe/Feuerwehrwesen

Postal address: Post Office Box 1134

Address: Gerhardyweg 1, 26899 Rhede (Ems)

Telephone: 04964 9182-19
Fax: 04964 9182-40
Transport Connection:
Handicapped Parking Place: Number: 2, Fees: no
Parking Place: Number: 60, Fees: no
Building Access:
elevator available : yes
wheelchair-accessible : yes
bank account:
recipients: Gemeinde Rhede (Ems)
bank: Emsländische Volksbank
IBAN: DE08266614940000164300
recipients: Gemeinde Rhede (Ems)
bank: Sparkasse Emsland
IBAN: DE06266500010017000019
payment methods:
Sepa Credit Transfer, Bank Transfer, Cash Payment, Sepa Direct Debit, Paypal


Point of contact:
Herr Holger Knak
Address: Gerhardyweg 1, 26899 Rhede (Ems)
Telephone: 04964 9182-19
Fax: 04964 9182-40
Ordnungsamt, Sozialamt, Bürgeramt, Standesamt, Gewerbeamt
responsible for:

Landkreis Emsland

Address: Ordeniederung 1 , 49716 Meppen

Postal address: Post Office Box 15 62

Telephone: 05931 44-0
Fax: 05931 44-3621
Transport Connection:
Building Access:
elevator available : yes
wheelchair-accessible : yes
bank account:
recipients: Landkreis Emsland
bank: Emsländische Volksbank
IBAN: DE26266600600120050000
recipients: Landkreis Emsland
bank: Sparkasse Emsland
IBAN: DE39266500010000001339
recipients: Landkreis Emsland
bank: Postbank Hannover
IBAN: DE36250100300012132306


Point of contact:
Marc-André Burgdorf
responsible for:
Bernd Otten (Datenschutzbeauftragter)
Telephone: 05931 44-1605
Fax: 05931 44-391605
responsible for:

Landesbeauftragte für den Datenschutz Niedersachsen

Address: Prinzenstraße 5, 30159 Hannover

Telephone: +49 511 12045-00
Fax: +49 511 12045-99
Building Access:
elevator available : unknown
wheelchair-accessible : unknown

Source: Serviceportal Niedersachsen (Portalverbund des Bundes und der Länder)

Further Links

Single points of contact of the state of Lower Saxony, Single points of contact of the countries of Europe, advice and assistance for EU citizens and their families.