Last week Coronation Street viewers witnessed Amy Barlow confess to her parents that she had fallen pregnant at the age of 14.
Despite the father of the baby hassling Amy to have an abortion, Amy insisted on keeping her unborn child even though she had doubts about how she would cope with motherhood, being so young.
Steve McDonald, father to Amy, suggested that he and Amy’s mum, Tracy, adopt the baby, passing it off as their own child.
Although Steve and Tracy created the impression that they were pleased with their proposal, Amy seemed more confused than ever.
In the event of a family relationship breakdown, or in a similar situation to that of Amy Barlow, grandparents can find themselves caring for their grandchildren and eventually taking over the parental role completely.
However, grandparents themselves do not automatically have Parental Responsibility (PR), and therefore do not have the same rights as parents. PR encompasses all the “rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and the authority which, by law, a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property.” Grandparents can acquire parental responsibility in a number of ways:
- Obtaining a Child Arrangements Order: PR is shared with the parents who also have PR for the child, and the consent of everyone with PR is required to make certain major decisions in a child’s life, such as changing the child’s surname or moving to live abroad.
- Obtaining a Special Guardianship Order:Grandparents still share PR with the parents who also have PR, but they would be entitled to make all of the day to day decisions about the child’s upbringing without the consent of those parents. Certain major decisions would still require the consent of everyone with PR, or prior approval of the Court.
- Obtaining an Adoption Order: This ends the legal relationship between the child and their parents.
You can possibly get support and financial help if someone else’s child is living with you full time. This would be the case with Corrie’s Steve and Tracy.
When deciding any arrangements for a child, the paramount concern for the Court will always be the child’s welfare. It is important that you seek advice at an early stage to ensure that you have considered your options fully and are in a position to act in the child’s best interests.
If you are seeking further advice on any of the issues raised above, please contact our Family Solicitor, Richard Lozano, on 01302 341414 for further information.