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Coronation Street – Child Arrangements and the role of Grandparents

30 July 2018

Sharon McKie

children act

Viewers of Coronation Street have been left stunned in recent weeks as they watched Eva Price give away her newborn baby to her sister Toyah Battersby in the hope that she could pass her off as her own child. This came after Toyah and Peter Barlow’s surrogate suffered a miscarriage and Toyah failed to tell Peter the truth about their own child passing away.

Eva had serious second thoughts straight after giving up her daughter and their plan only lasted for 3 weeks due to the guilt they felt. Toyah decided to reveal everything to Peter – who thought he was the child’s biological father.

After hearing exactly what had happened, Johnny Connor who is the paternal grandfather of baby Susie, surprised everyone when he announced that he intended to fight for “custody” of his late son’s daughter.

Johnny immediately set the ball rolling by applying for a Child Arrangements Order for Susie to live with him. This left Eva distraught at the thought of giving up her daughter for the second time.

Child Arrangements Orders are court orders regulating who a child or children live with or spend time with following, for example, parental separation, or in this case, the grandparent believing the mother is not ‘fit’ to have the care of a child when she had recently tried to give her away.

Grandparents would normally make arrangements to spend time with their grandchildren by making arrangements with the parents or carers of a child or children. Grandparents are not automatically entitled to apply for a Child Arrangements Order, although there are certain exceptions to that rule. If arrangements cannot be agreed, then a grandparent can seek leave (permission) of the court to make an application for a Child Arrangements Order. Leave would normally be granted in circumstances where grandparents have played an active role in a child’s life. It is generally considered to be in the best interests of a child to have a relationship with other family members as well as their parents/carers. On that basis, the vast majority of grandparents would succeed in securing leave to make an application. It is then for the court to determine the application for a Child Arrangements Order.

A grandparent may be automatically entitled to apply for a Child Arrangements Order under section 10(5) of the Children Act 1989 if they are;

  • Any person with whom the child has lived for a period of at least three years.

Section 10(10) of the Children Act 1989 states this period ‘need not be continuous but must not have begun more than five years before, or ended more than three months before, the making of the application’

  • Any person who has the consent of each of the persons named in a Child Arrangements Order which is in force;
  • Any person who has the consent of a local authority in any case where the child is in the care of that local authority;
  • Any person who has Parental Responsibility for the child by virtue of provision made under section 12(2A);

Or in any other case, has the consent of each of those (if any) who have Parental Responsibility for the child.

Coronation Street’s Johnny will need the leave of the court to make his application. As he has recently “kidnapped” baby Susie then he may have damaged his prospects of success. It remains to be seen whether his criminal behaviour will prejudice his case. Needless to say, Eva was hopeful that Johnny would be facing time in prison and that he would either; not pursue his application for a Child Arrangements Order or that a court will decide that Susie should remain in her care. However, she has since had a change of heart and decided to drop allegations made towards her daughter’s grandfather.

Time will tell what happens and it will be interesting to see if the writers of Coronation Street get things right from a legal perspective or whether artistic licence trumps accuracy. We will do our best to keep you posted.

 

If you require any advice in relation to making child arrangements for your children or grandchildren, – contact Rosemary Finn, Taylor Bracewell’s Senior Family Law Solicitor on 0114 2721884 or rosie@taylorbracewell.co.uk