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Step-Parent Parental Responsibility

(27 Posts)
Bythebeach Tue 15-Nov-16 12:24:19

Has any one had to apply for a Court Order for this?

Situation is DS1 has lived with myself and DH since age of 17 months and is now 11.5 years old. DH and I have two further children (8,3) and DS1's home has always been with us. DS1 has seen ex and step-mum regularly at half-terms and holidays (we take him there and Ex returns him) but decreasing contact across the years as they live 300 miles away and decreased contact when their own kids arrived (and there is a whole other thread about how ex has let DS1 down refusing the one to one time DS1 asked for and failing to pay 11 months of maintenance).
DS1's new secondary school requires that you have parental responsibility to access the online learning gateway and thus this has triggered the need for DH to obtain step-parent parental responsibility (although it had occurred to us years ago) and actually seems absurd that he does not have it (regularly has all kids on his own at night when I'm working shifts, has taken DS1 away on trips on his own cycling/rugby etc). The Ex won't agree - which is ridiculous and very hurtful given he has no day to day contact nor responsibility for DS1 and has not had any for 10 years. In any case step-parent parental responsibility is additional and takes nothing away from Ex. So looks like Ex's refusal is driving DH to seek a court order. Would really appreciate any advice and experiences please?

Thatwaslulu Tue 15-Nov-16 12:27:06

I don't have any advice on this but would it not be possible for you to get a log on to the portal and just share the details with your DH?

smEGGtoplasm Tue 15-Nov-16 12:32:21

We went for a straight step parent adoption after 5 and a half years of no contact/maintenance whatsoever from my children's dad. We were told that the process is the same, you will still need local authority involvement and have to apply for a court order.

My children's biological father also refused and we are now dealing with cafcass as well. It's been horribly drawn out and very stressful but will ultimately be worth it.

I'd advise speaking to the local authority first, and then a solicitor. We were told by our LA that we wouldn't need one (ha!) that was a ridiculous thing for them to tell us and walking into the situation blind, we listened. So make sure you are properly advised and represented.

Bythebeach Tue 15-Nov-16 12:32:36

Of course I can Thatwaslulu - thanks - but I think the school online gateway issue raises the importance of DH having parental responsibility - he has regular day to day care of DS1 and is to all intents and purposes his parent. At present, in hospital, on the rugby pitch, should DS1 be in trouble or contact with the police in his teenage years, at parents' evenings etc, DH has no legal standing which is at complete odds with the extent of care he has with DS1. We have three children, I work, I cannot always be in two places at once and it would seem more safe and sensible for DH to have parental responsibility.

Bythebeach Tue 15-Nov-16 12:40:11

smEG - DH wouldn't go for adoption because he has no wish to tread on ex's toes - and doesn't adoption deprive the bio dad of his parental responsibilities? Much as I despise the ex because of his worsening treatment and regard for DS1, it wouldn't seem fair.

Ex is an entitled, lazy twat who feels DS1 owes him time and love simply because he contributed genetically BUT he is not a total deadbeat dad - he has seen DS1 regularly and mostly paid some maintenance. He has no day to day involvement because of his own decision to move hundreds of miles away and also I suspect because he struggles with his new kids and has insufficient time and energy for maintaining close contact with DS1 but he speaks to DS1 once a week nowadays.

Do I need to contact the LA for step-parent parental responsibility?

Bythebeach Tue 15-Nov-16 12:42:04

Drawn out and stressful sound awful - DH just want's the appropriate responsibility for his role in DS1's life!

smEGGtoplasm Tue 15-Nov-16 12:46:21

I understand op. Yes it does take away the fathers rights, it's a sad situation, not one we've come to lightly. My children are young and have only ever known my husband as their father. He has been completely absent by choice. It's a totally different situation from the one that you're in.

But yes, I believe it's the same process. After we had initial contact from social services adoption team they explained the different types of ways to get parental responsibility for a step parent and said that we'd still go through the same process for the other ways also.

smEGGtoplasm Tue 15-Nov-16 12:47:33

I'm not going to deny it's been very stressful so far.

Bythebeach Tue 15-Nov-16 13:02:29

smEG - I hope it all works out in the end. I think in some ways it will be far simpler and cleaner. I always thought I was doing the right thing helping DS1 maintain a relationship with his dad but this year he has felt hurt and manipulated and as he grows older he recognises clearly his dad does not prioritise him compared to his new little siblings and the that hurt is awful. I wish very much that DS1 was mine and DH's but he is not and I feel it is still my job to enable him to know his dad - but I can no longer protect him from his dad's crapness.

needsahalo Tue 15-Nov-16 13:05:47

I personally wouldn't agree to giving parental responsibility to a new partner and therefore understand why he disagrees.

I would personally look at the school side of it - I have never heard of a school refusing a step-parent some kind of status, particularly when it 'approved' by the parent they live with. I teach - I can't imagine this would ever be an issue for us - plenty of parents bring their own siblings, for example, to meetings for support and plenty of uncles/aunts/grandmas/next door neighbours can be relied upon in an emergency (and not so emergency) situations. They just need to be named by a parent on contact forms. My own children have an emergency contact as my next door neighbour t if myself or their dad can't be contacted (unlikely, but you never know) and this was accepted as my choice. Nothing at all to do with parental responsibility.

smEGGtoplasm Tue 15-Nov-16 13:09:15

Thank you.

I wish you all the best too. Especially with your awkward ex.

I've just found this, hopefully it helps you.

Bythebeach Tue 15-Nov-16 13:43:06

needsahalo - why would you not allow parental responsibility for a step-parent who has lived with and looked after your child for decade?

As for the school - the form allowed two spaces for names for accessing the learning gateway and underneath each space it states" person with parental responsibility" and I spoke to his form teacher at the induction evening and she had encountered a similar situation but the biological father had agreed to sign the step-parental responsibility form so no issue. I didn't know at that stage there was going to be one.

Bythebeach Tue 15-Nov-16 13:43:30

Thanks smEG

Thedogdidit1 Tue 15-Nov-16 14:44:54

I so nearly started a thread like this the other day after an incident with school. DSCs live with DH and me full time and see their Mum EOW at the moment (although she has been completely absent from their lives for significant periods at different times). I got a call from school about something one of the DSCs had forgotten, dropped my work, sorted stuff out and went in to deliver it to the school. When I asked to be put on the notification emails so that I am more aware of what the kids are being asked to take in etc, I was told that because I don't have PR they couldn't add me. When I got home I thought about the irony of the situation - its me the school calls whenever there is a problem, I do all the pick-ups and drop-offs, make pack lunches etc but they wouldn't put me on an email notification list!

While there is the court awarded route, is it worth it for the trouble it might cause with the ex? I decided I don't want PR, while I love the DSCs dearly, I'm not their Mum so am happy not to have the legal PR status. But I will admit it would have made some things a lot easier over the years if there was something that could recognise that because they live with me full time I end up doing most of the stuff a parent does and so need to be able to approve things when DH is unable to make it along because of the kind of work he does.

Bythebeach Tue 15-Nov-16 15:21:06

Thedo, you sound like a wonderful presence in your DSC's lives. And from where I'm standing you appear to be fulfilling many maternal day to day functions.
I took your stance for many years not wanting to rock the boat but as relations are at rock bottom with ex, it can't make any difference to pursue PR for DH. And DS1 doesn't want to be different from his brothers and hates DH being referred to as step-father. When he talks about DH to casual acquaintances he just says 'dad' although he does explain to friends he has 'two dads'!

Bythebeach Tue 15-Nov-16 15:22:56

And I think the point about step parental responsibility is you don't in any way become their mum but you are recognised as one of the child's responsible parents.

needsahalo Tue 15-Nov-16 17:18:43

why would you not allow parental responsibility for a step-parent who has lived with and looked after your child for decade

Because children have two parents active in their lives?
Because the step parent isn't someone I get to choose?
Because no matter how different in beliefs, lifestyle, opinion the step parent maybe from me, he/she still gets to be in my child's life and I get no say in that? I mean, as a parent I get to say no to my child having a play date at the house of the class racist/sexist/anything else I don't like, but if my ex moves in with someone of that ilk, I have no say.
Because fundamentally, the step parent made a choice to be in child's life but the child has no say in it? What does the child want? Probably to see their NRP more and for their parents to work together, not to have to accept their parent's partner of choice as another parent.

I say that with caveats that all situations are different but I don't think my partner gets that kind of status in my children's lives just cos he's around more than the ex.

swingofthings Tue 15-Nov-16 18:02:55

Is it really necessary? My ex, who sees the kids every week-end but has absolutely no involvement in their day to day life doesn't have parental responsibility, just because they were born just before the law changed and as we were not married, it wasn't automatic despite being on their birth certificate.

It has never caused an issue. Last year, DS broke his arm so DH took him to hospital. They asked who he was, he said dad, and that was the end of it.

If you think about it, what is your OH missing because he doesn't have PR? He can't log on a computer, but really can get all the information from you. If he had to take him to hospital, they would contact you. If they couldn't get through, they would provide the treatment that he needs anyway.

The reason why you are so keen on him having PR, which is that it gives him some status in relation to your DS is exactly the reason why his dad is not agreeing, but the reality is that it makes very little difference in every day life. It hasn't affected him in the last 10 years and is unlikely to do so in the next 7. Is it really worth paying quite a lot going to court for what will change nothing?

Bythebeach Tue 15-Nov-16 18:15:46

And I think that caveat is the crux. I wouldn't look for or ask for this if ex lived close by and actually shared parenting and responsibility. But my ex voted with his feet and moved hundreds of miles away when DS was 4 and before he moved he reduced his contact with DS from thrice a week to twice and after he moved he managed once every few weeks which he reduced again to only half terms and holidays once his subsequent children were born. And no my child does not want my time at NRP's house. Over the last couple of years I have had to coax and encourage him to go -at least partly because at his dad's he has no bed, no drawers and no space. No my ex can't choose who lives with me in my family - but he could have chosen not to leave such a vast parent-shaped hole in DS's life which DH has gradually filled over the many years of living together. Ultimately, I can't fathom abandoning my child to be brought up far away from me and in ex's position would have moved hell and high water to stay close to and actually parent my child. As ex hasn't done, it seems churlish in the extreme to deny any responsibility to the man who has actually stepped up and taken the day to day burden of raising DS.

Bythebeach Tue 15-Nov-16 18:30:31

Swing - you are sort of right. I think it is the common-sense thing to do and best for DS but we have sort of managed so far. However, life isn't static. 10 years ago ex and I lived close to each other and ex was more involved. The same was true-ish 7 years ago until ex moved but my mindset in the years after was v much to assume ex was responsible until I eventually noticed the steady decline of ex's interest and time with DS. So now at the transition point to secondary school it is evident ex is no real sort of father. And the one hospital trip DS has had was last year and it was a bit tricky because DS was fine, I wanted to go before he was discharged as was due to start night shift but was worried to leave DH because he doesn't have PR.

needsahalo Tue 15-Nov-16 18:50:00

How would the hospital know? Did you have to prove you have PR?

Bythebeach Tue 15-Nov-16 18:52:41

No- but we don't lie so when we came into triage and they asked who we were, we said mum and step-dad!

Bythebeach Tue 15-Nov-16 18:54:36

With PR , DH could have gone alone and said step-dad with PR!

needsahalo Tue 15-Nov-16 19:18:44

Still struggling to see why your partner needs PR. Other than to prove to your ex he's a shit dad. And I suspect he knows that already.

You can hand over the login, you don't need the school's permission for that. Struggling to see a situation where your partner might genuinely need PR. In medical emergencies, the medical staff take over anyway.

ThereYouAre Tue 15-Nov-16 21:36:34

Thedogdidit1 I find the school's refusal surprising. We even add childminder's onto email lists with parental consent where I work.

I have a stepson and I got PR in court in another country. It was uncontested though so no advice, sorry OP.

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