One of the key storylines on Coronation Street at the moment is that of David Platt and his wife, Kylie’s son Max.
Max’s father has recently appeared back on the scene after having never been involved in his life before.
Mention has been made of the fact that he was on the birth certificate and this is relevant from a legal perspective.
The first important point is in relation to parental responsibility. All mothers will have automatic parental responsibility for any child born to them. Fathers will automatically have parental responsibility if they were married to the mother (either when the child was born or later) or (subject to when the child was born) if they are named on the birth certificate.
Parental responsibility is defined in the Children Act 1989 Section 3 as “all the rights duties powers responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property”.
In Coronation Street Kylie and Max’s father, Callum both have parental responsibility but David does not appear to have it.
David could have obtained parental responsibility by a parental responsibility agreement but that would have had to been with the consent of both Kylie and Callum and in the circumstances this seems unlikely.
The other way to obtain it is by an order from the court and it does not appear that that has been done either.
Separately David has mentioned that he wishes they had “got round” to him adopting Max.
An adoption order will give a step-parent parental responsibility. Previously a residence order would also have given a step-parent parental responsibility but residence orders no longer exist having been replaced by child arrangement orders.
Applications for parental responsibility orders and/or child arrangement orders are made pursuant to the Children Act 1989 and therefore they will always be based on the welfare checklist which is set out below and which can be found at Section 1 of that Act.
1. The feelings and wishes of the child.
2. The child’s physical and emotional and educational needs.
3. The likely effect on the child if circumstances change.
4. The child’s age, sex, background and other characteristics which are relevant.
5. Any harm the child has suffered or maybe at risk of suffering.
6. The capability of the child’s parents (or any other person) of meeting the child’s needs.
7. The powers available.
Different criteria would apply in relation to adoption.
As Max’s father, Callum would be able to make an application under the Children Act without the court’s permission to include an application that Max live with him. Should David wish to make an application (for Max for live with him and/ or for parental responsibility or any other order) then he would need to obtain the permission of the family court.
But what about adoption? The Adoption and Children Act 2002 sets out the requirements of step-parent adoption. Anybody with parental responsibility, like Callum, should be informed and the adoption process would be dealt with through the Local Council and involve an assessment and a report would be prepared by a social worker. If granted the a step parent adoption order would have taken parental responsibility away from Callum.
More information about children law generally can be found on our website here.
If this does not answer your question please contact us and speak to one of our specialist family lawyers.