Imagine if you will the opening of QualitySolicitors Amphlett Lissimore’s Weatherfield office! There have been happenings in this area of Manchester which have been plastered across the local and national newspapers and which have resulted in a certain Mr David Platt consulting me in relation to his legal position concerning his step-son Max.
As many of you soap fans out there (yes, I’m very much one of you!), will know, Coronation Street are running a storyline where young Max’s parents have both been murdered - one of them having been buried under the flooring of the granny annex. As a result, despite the fact that Max is living with his step-father David, there is no parent alive who has parental responsibility of Max.
Parental Responsibility (commonly referred to on the TV as “parental rights”) was introduced by the Children Act 1989 and it basically means the rights a parent possesses by law, including providing a home where a child lives, financially providing for a child, decisions about medical treatment, schooling etc and also deals with taking a child out of the country. Without having parental responsibility, a person - even a step-parent - is not legally entitled to “deal with” a lot of important issues that might be considered a natural right i.e. access to medical or school records, the ability to provide consent for medical treatment.
Mr Platt, still trying to get over Kylie’s murder, has made an appointment to see me as he was concerned about what he can and can’t do in relation to Max and he rightly wanted to make sure he was doing right by him. Despite what I have said above, all is not lost for Mr Platt as it is possible for him to acquire parental responsibility of Max although this can only be done by Court Order.
The steps that Mr Platt would need to take involve him applying to the Court for a Child Arrangements Order which specifically states that Max lives with him. Ordinarily, a step-parent would have to have the Court’s permission to make the application but if the child has lived with them for over 3 years, that formal permission is not required. If the Court makes an Order that confirms that Max is to live with Mr Platt, that Order will automatically grant Mr Platt parental responsibility of Max. This will enable Mr Platt to make important day to day decisions about Max in the way that his parents would have done had they not asked for a pay-rise and been ceremoniously killed off!
Essentially therefore, whether you are a step-parent, parent, grandparent or other primary carer of a child and you do not have parental responsibility, it is imperative that you obtain it. Can you imagine being turned away at the check-in desk at the airport if you are unable to show that you have the legal right to take a child out of the country? If Mr Platt hadn’t obtained my advice, this may very well have happened to him in relation to a planned trip to take Max to visit Kylie’s sister Becky in Barbados and we all know how angry David can get............!