Avid Eastenders fans will have watched a disturbing episode of of the soap recently which sees Heather Trott reach breaking point. Her financial situation and living arrangement is such that she feels completely unable to care for her 14 month old son.
She finally decides she can no longer cope and gives her son to his father, Darren Miller. Tragedy strikes and Heather suffers from Carbon Monoxide poisoning and is rushed to hospital. Meanwhile, Darren continues to look after George until Heather returns from hospital. Once Heather is discharged from hospital, Darren refuses to hand George back to her.
At the moment, Heather has agreed for Darren to have George as she does not feel she can adequately provide for him, but what if she changes her mind? What legal rights does she have to get George back?
As Darren has parental responsibility, he is perfectly within his rights to have George remain with him. It will therefore be for Heather to issue a Court application for “Residence” i.e. an Order that George resides with her.
When deciding who George will live with, his welfare will be the Court’s paramount consideration.
The Court will have regard to various factors some of which include their physical and emotional needs; any harm which they have suffered or are at risk of suffering and how capable they each are in meeting George’s needs.
Darren is a young father living in an overcrowded property to which he has no legal rights of occupation. How will he find room for George? What will happen if he is asked to leave? Darren is in unsecure accommodation and was evicted with relative ease by Max the owner, who also happens to be his employer, when he lost his job.
Darren has also had little experience in caring for George full time and although he may attempt to argue his girlfriend Jodie can help him meet George’s needs, her nature is such that she appears to be more of a hindrance than a help.
Whilst Heather has been caring for George since birth she is in severe debt and also has no permanent accommodation at present. She is living with her friend Shirley and Phil Mitchell. The only other accommodation she has is the flat which recently had Carbon Monoxide. It's likely that a Court would be as concerned about George living in a property with Phil Mitchell as they would be about George living in a flat with Carbon Monoxide.
Who George will live with is therefore unclear but it's likely to be only a matter of time before Heather wants George back and if Darren refuses, it will be interesting to see what happens at Walford County Court!
For a free initial consultation about a Children's Law issue such as Parental Responsibility, call the Family Solicitors at Slater and Gordon Lawyers on freephone 0800 916 9055 or contact us online and we'll be happy to help you.