Court Approves Application For Mother To Apply For Passport For Children In Father’s Absence
At IMD Solicitors we represent a number of family clients, located in the UK and abroad. As more and more families are becoming international families, we are often asked to provide legal advice and assistance. Usually this is when parents have separated and decisions relating to the child need to be made but one parent cannot be located or does not want to be involved. In this case, we explain the issues surrounding international children issues and outline a real case study involving issuing a child’s passport in the absence of the child’s father.
Resolving International Children Issues
The first step, you would think would be to try and contact the other parent and resolve the matter. However, when families separate, lines of communication are not always maintained and it leaves the resident parent (the parent with whom the child lives) unable to make important decisions without the consent of the non -resident parent. In England and Wales you may then need to apply to the court for a Specific Issue Order if you cannot agree on:
- education of your child
- health/medical treatment of your child
- your child’s name and/or change of name
- relocating outside of the UK
- taking the child abroad without the consent of the parent.
What If The Child Lives With Me, Can I Make All The Decisions?
If you have parental responsibility i.e. “all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities, and authorities which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and child’s property” then you can make important decisions about your child.
This means if you share parental responsibility with the other parent, then they too are allowed to be involved in important decision making. Parents should try to reach an agreement about the issues above, but if they cannot agree then they may need to apply to the court to decide how the parental responsibility should be exercised.
Parental Responsibility Orders You May Need To Consider
Orders you might need to consider applying for, relating to your child:
- Child arrangements order: an order setting out who the child lives with or who the child spends times with.
- Specific Issue Order: an order when an agreement cannot be reached on a specific issue such as those listed above.
- Prohibited Steps Order: an order forbidding a person who has parental responsibility from taking a certain step in relation to a child
Real Children Law Case Study
A common issue that some of our international family clients face is renewing or applying for their children’s EU passport and being unable to do so as the other parent refuses to provide their consent or are unable to be contacted. This was one particular case and the father was unable to be located and the mother wanted to renew the child’s Polish passport and take the child to Poland on holiday.
At IMD Solicitors we applied to the court in England and Wales for a Specific Issue Order. We also made an additional application to dispense with service of the application on the father on the basis that the father was estranged, outside of the UK and unable to be contacted; we demonstrated that we had exhausted all possible ways of notifying the father about the proceedings.
We secured a successful outcome for the mother in that the court granted permission for the mother to apply for the child’s passport in the absence of the father’s consent and also granted the application to dispense with service.
International Parent Child Abduction
It is always important to be well informed before you make an important decision relating to your children. If the other parent with parental responsibility is not involved in important decisions and you take your child abroad without their consent or relocate, again without their consent, then there are serious consequences if you do so.
It is a criminal offence under the Child Abduction Act 1984 for a person to take a child under the age of 16 out of the UK without appropriate consent.
The Court’s Involvement In International Family Cases
The court is of course a last resort and all steps must be taken to contact the other parent when these issues arise and at least put them on notice before you take steps to involve the family court. It is vitally important that you take legal advice before making decisions without the consent of the other parent, even when they are not necessarily on the scene or having contact with you child.
Our International Family And Children Matters Solicitors Can Help
International family and children matters can be complex and we strongly recommend that you take advice as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.
Our specialist international children lawyers based in London and Manchester can help you make legal arrangements for your children. Our team advise on issues including: permission/consent for issuing a passport, parental responsibility issues, contact arrangements, living arrangements and abduction.
This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.