Avid viewers of Emmerdale know that trouble is brewing for Alicia. She has recently had a run in with Val, punching her in the face. Some might say the run in with Val was trouble enough but Alicia now faces prison as a result of the assault as she has a previous conviction.
So what happens to Jacob, Alicia’s son from her former marriage to Justin? Alicia wants him to stay with David.
As we all know things are not what they appear to be in Soapland ……. In fact Jacob isn’t Alicia’s son …… he is actually the birth son of Alicia’s sister, Leyla, who was originally engaged to David before
she ran out on him. However Justin really is Jacob’s dad as he had a brief relationship with Leyla even when he was going out with Alicia. Justin and Alicia have then brought Jacob up as their own child and Jacob believes that Leyla is just his auntie and not his mum.
With me so far, then let’s continue …..
The story line is now set to see David discussing marrying Alicia all for the sake of Jacob to save him going back to live with his dad, Justin, when Alicia goes to jail.
So will the plans work? Will Jacob continue to live with happily ever after with David until Alicia gets out of prison?
This is all a legal nightmare and whilst you may not get all of these twists and turns in real life there are cases where a step parent needs advice on their position.
So where does David stand?
The starting point is to work out who has parental responsibility (PR) for Jacob. This is defined as all of the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property. Practically, it means that a parent has the right to make decisions in respect of the child’s education, medical care, religion and surname.
Parental Responsibility for children can be acquired in a number of ways.
Birth mothers acquire PR automatically. Fathers acquire it most often by being registered as the child’s father on the birth certificate if the birth was after the 1st December 2003 or by entering into a formal PR agreement with the birth mother or applying to the courts for a Parental Responsibility order.
So Leyla automatically has PR for Jacob. Does any one else?
His dad Justin could have PR automatically if he is named on the birth certificate as Jacob was born after the rules were changed to allow fathers to automatically obtain PR.
By being married once upon a time to Alicia would not legally give him PR.
Alicia does not legally have PR for Jacob. That means that legally she can’t share that PR with David on either an informal or formal basis. Neither can she legally give consent for medical treatment for Jacob and as we know from the story line the child suffers from a severe nut allergy.
Leyla can share her PR with David informally but she is off the scene and has not reappeared …… as yet.
If David went ahead and married Alicia then if she really was Jacob’s birth mother then they could agree to enter into a formal step parent Parental Responsibility Agreement (if Jacob’s birth father did not have PR for him or in any event agreed to David having PR). Otherwise they would have to apply to the Courts for a step parent Parental Responsibility Order.
However as Alicia isn’t Jacob’s birth mother then David’s options are limited.
One option is for David to do absolutely nothing and to see if Jacob’s dad comes rushing out of the woodwork looking for Jacob to live with him before David decides to take court action. However the down side to this is that David has no official authority to look after Jacob and give consent to medical treatment or other life issues.
The other option is to be upfront and to apply to the courts for a Residence Order which would settle the issue of where and with whom Jacob should live.
The court’s paramount consideration is Jacob’s welfare. They will have to decide how capable both David and Justin are in meeting Jacob’s physical, emotional and educational needs. Jacob’s own wishes and feelings about which person he wants to live with will also need to be taken into account.
Contact Michelle Simpson, Resolution Accredited Specialist, at Chafes Solicitors LLP New Mills office on 01663 743344 or email email@example.com in order to discuss your family law issues.