Senior family court Judge for the south-west HHJ Stephen Wildblood has commented on how the family courts are being filled up by private law cases that should not require court involvement He noted examples of these types of cases which he has...
Currently step-parent families are the fastest growing family type. A step-parent is a person who is either married to or is the civil partner of a child’s parent. The step-parent role can be a difficult one. They can be perceived as a threat by the non-resident parent and have no automatic legal status, even though they may be called upon to assist with and make decisions relating to the care of step-children.
It is possible for step-parents to acquire legal status in relation to their step-children in various different ways. This may be helpful in circumstances where the resident parent wants to give his/her new spouse or civil partner some status, or one of the children’s natural parents has died and the surviving natural parent also dies leaving the step-parent looking after the children.
What is involved?
Adoption is often the solution which families initially think of. However, this can be complicated and is a rather drastic step in that it severs all legal ties with at least one side of the children’s natural family. One of the most straightforward ways of securing legal status is to apply for step-parent parental responsibility. This can be done by entering into a step-parent parental responsibility agreement which needs to be signed by the mother, and natural father, if he has parental responsibility and by the step-parent. The agreement is registered with the family court and will remain in place until the child’s eighteenth birthday.
If the natural father has parental responsibility but does not consent, a step-parent can apply for a parental responsibility order. Often granting parental responsibility to step-parents will be sensible step to confirm a step-parent’s position of responsibility within the family. Parental responsibility can also be acquired through a joint residence order application.
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We have a highly experience specialist child care team who are able to advise and represent you on any aspect of the law relating to children. Contact us in confidence to discuss your options.
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