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How am I supposed to get permission to take child abroad when no contact whatsoever with ex?

(70 Posts)
chchchchanges1 Sat 23-Apr-16 13:19:36

Name changed.

Would really appreciate advice. I have been abroad with dd a few times (Spain and France) with no issues. But i'm looking in to travelling to Orlando in the next year or two. I realise that American security will more than definitely require some sort of permission letter stating I can legally enter the country with my dd (even if not, I wouldn't want to risk it after paying out for flights and the holiday etc).

So, brief background.

DD is 9yo.

Ex is on birth certificate so has PR even though we weren't married.

No contact with dd since he left when she was 1 year old.

No idea where he is or where any of his family lives.

No court orders or residency orders or anything are in place.

So how would I go about getting permission to take her to America?

Would a signed letter from a lawyer be enough? Or would I need to go to court for permission? Can anyone advice of what specific type of order I would need to apply for, whether or not a lawyer would be required, and the costs involved?

I would preferably like this type of permission to be longstanding and I would like to apply for it before booking the holiday (as opposed to just getting something from the court stating that I can take her to Orlando from X date to X date) so that I don't have to keep applying for permission every time we want to travel somewhere.

Would I therefore be best off applying for a residency order which would allow me to take her out of the country for 28 days?

Is it possible to apply for this if I have no way of contacting my ex to tell him what is happening?

Can someone advise me if i need a lawyer for this, or if i can do it myself? The costs involved going it alone vs with a lawyer? And exactly how i would do it, without a lawyer?


BreakfastAtSquiffanys Sat 23-Apr-16 13:22:14

Does DD have your surname or ex surname?

chchchchanges1 Sat 23-Apr-16 13:24:59

Hi, she has my ex's surname.

I've just found something online saying that a residence order is now called a child arrangement order. And a court will not grant one unless both parents first attend mediation. Again, i have no idea how this could happen when we haven't had the slightest bit of contact for 8 years and I have no address/contact details for him.

chchchchanges1 Sat 23-Apr-16 13:26:20

Also, we are in Scotland. So unsure if law is different here than rest of UK :/ Such a big carry on. I suppose I could get myself to a lawyer and put it on the credit card. But would like a rough idea of the costs involved getting from point A to actually getting the order, before making an appointment.

Follyfoot Sat 23-Apr-16 13:29:56

XH has had no contact with my DD since she was 4 (she is an adult now). I never sought permission for her to go overseas with me when she was under 18 - didnt even think of it to be honest- and have never been questioned, including when we visited America.

Hamiltoes Sat 23-Apr-16 13:30:52

Hmm, my mum took us when we were young and we have never had any contact with our father. This is going back perhaps 10 years but I can ask her how she got around it, if that may help?

I also thought, could it be easier just changing DDs name on her passport? I've never done this but I suppose it might be easier than going to court etc?

FreyaMikaelson Sat 23-Apr-16 13:31:06

My understanding (I am not a lawyer) is that before applying you would need to evidence that you had made reasonable attempts to contact him and ask permission. I'm not sure what that would entail if you don't even have a rough idea of where he is located.

Then to apply to court you would need to go to a mediation service and have them sign the court form to evidence that you have attempted mediation. This will probably cost £120ish.

Then you would apply to court for an order. My understanding is that courts are unlikely to issue an order for residence (they are now called Child Arrangement Orders) when this is not actually in dispute, so you would be applying for a Specific Issue Order. Both use form C100 which you can download from the court website. I'm not sure if they will issue these on a general basis for holiday permission, or only per holiday, as in my case my XP gave permission so I never got that far. There's a fee to apply to court of around £200.

(Our holiday was also to Orlando, and in the end we weren't questioned at any stage. However as you say I would never have risked travelling without permission in place. So frustrating when the other parent is completely absent.)

FreyaMikaelson Sat 23-Apr-16 13:34:21

If you are Scotland the process will be different. He will have PRR if your DD was born after May 2006, and the whole application will be handled by Scottish courts which are separate jurisdiction to England & Wales. You need Scotland-specific advice.

chchchchanges1 Sat 23-Apr-16 13:44:41

Thanks for the advice and replies.

Follyfoot - Unmarried fathers of children born after 2006 automatically have PR if on the birth certificate, which is why you wouldn't have required permission since you daughter is now an adult.

Hamiltoes - To change her surname on her passport, I would require ex's permission since he has PR. Again, no idea how I would ever be able to do this when I don't know how to contact him. An utter shambles.

Freya - Thanks. That's really useful. I remember querying with a lawyer when dd was 2yo about getting a residence order as I wanted to take her to France for a week. Lawyer told me that since my ex is absent and not contactable, he wouldn't be able to dispute residence so this type of order wouldn't be required. I was thinking now though that I'd really like one anyway so that I could book holidays with no stress about needing permission etc.

Looking at the website, I'm told that if i want to take her on holiday and can't get permission from my ex (due to not knowing his whereabouts) I need to speak to a lawyer about getting permission from the courts. My worry is the cost this is going to be on top of a holiday each and every time we want to go away. Ideally, I would like one Order that would allow me to take her abroad for holidays all throughout her childhood, but looks like that isn't possible. So it's going to have to be on a case by case basis, and will be a good few hundred pounds (at least, probably lots more factoring in lawyer costs) to factor in to every future holiday budget.

It's just madness.

Pisssssedofff Sat 23-Apr-16 14:04:15

I took my eldest around the world including recently to America and Australia.... Her father is named on the birth certificate and she has a different surname and not once have I been stopped about that. She was asked who I was once but she told them I was mum and that was that ... In France

chchchchanges1 Sat 23-Apr-16 14:10:27

Pissed off - i'm actually so frustrated right now, I'm beginning to think i may just bloody well risk it. Or even forge a 'permission letter'. I am fuming about the whole thing.

Basically, from what I've gathered so far online:

1) I need to first attend a mediation interview. When i tell the mediator that I dont know where my ex is, the mediator will sign a section of the C100 form stating I am exempt from mediation. I would need to pay for this initial mediation appointment.

2) Then I need to submit the C100 form to the court. £215.

3) I may also be best consulting with a lawyer, which would also cost me a fair bit.

4) I would maybe need to do this for each and every time that I want to take my daughter away, as it's not guaranteed that one order would give me permission to take her on a holiday every year.

Absolutely ridiculous.

Pisssssedofff Sat 23-Apr-16 14:14:21

Honestly you're worrying about nothing just go, get travel insurance in case God forbid you're stopped but you won't be .... Forging is never a good idea

starry0ne Sat 23-Apr-16 14:18:13

current law does not take into account the way the world is...I could go on about the fact primarily men are allowed to disappear . not be responsible for their children is a joke.. I would not go looking for my ex as it would open up a can of worms I am not prepared to open.I have do far only travelled to Canaries... My son was questioned on age/ date of birth/ who I was despite us having the same surname..

titchy Sat 23-Apr-16 14:36:17

Good luck finding travel insurance to cover cancellation where the correct permissions weren't sought by the policy holder hmm

titchy Sat 23-Apr-16 14:38:53

You do need specific Scottish advice but, it is possible for your ex to be traced - there are companies that do this for you. Would he maybe be amenable to signing a letter, drafted by a solicitor, that gives permission for all trips abroad for the next 5 or 10 years?

chchchchanges1 Sat 23-Apr-16 14:46:30

Probably not, Titchy. He left saying he wants absolutely nothing to do with me or his 'bastard' child ever again. And i better not dare get in touch with him for anything. Charming.

I know there are PIs and companies etc that could find him for me. But that again would be yet more money. And would be pointless. Even if i was somehow able to supply a court/mediator with his address, he'd ignore any correspondence. Costing me more. TBH, i think there's only 9 more years til dd is 18. We may just stick to the EU til then. We'll try America etc when she is legally an adult and doesn't need his permission to go on holiday with me. Absolutely appalling that that's what has to happen though, with the only alternative being me paying out £££ and lots of my time and energy in seeking permission from a man who is categorically absent from our lives.

NickiFury Sat 23-Apr-16 14:55:57

I've travelled regularly to the states, Far East and UAE with my two DC and have never once been asked for a permission letter. I'm sure it does happen and obviously best to cover all eventualities but I don't agree with the scaremongering that's often posted here on MN - not this thread obviously.

GreenGoth89 Sat 23-Apr-16 16:43:34

Is it worth seeing if you can get him to relinquish PR? There are ways and means of tracking people down for starters. Because he could turn up at some point in the future and decide he wants to dictate things.

prh47bridge Sat 23-Apr-16 19:55:24

I don't agree with the scaremongering that's often posted here on MN

I'm sorry you consider it scaremongering but it is a criminal offence to take a child out of the country unless you have the permission of everyone with PR or an appropriate court order. Yes, it is unlikely you will be arrested. Yes, you may well not be asked to prove you have the necessary permission. But some people find they are not allowed to board the plane or are refused entry when they reach their destination if they don't have the correct paperwork.

And would be pointless

If you could show that you had made a reasonable attempt to track him down and obtain his permission you would be able to get a Specific Issue Order allowing you to take your daughter out of the country legally.

KP86 Sat 23-Apr-16 20:00:36

Might it be cheaper to hire a PI, get your ex's whereabouts and then get a letter from him?

KP86 Sat 23-Apr-16 20:01:18

Oh, sorry. Cross posted. Didn't RTFT. blush

dancemom Sat 23-Apr-16 20:03:05


I'm in Scotland, my dd has her fathers surname and he has PR.

I travelled to Florida with her 2 years ago and no one asked me anything! I am in contact with her father but I didn't ask for a letter / permission etc and it was totally fine.

gininteacupsandleavesonthelawn Sat 23-Apr-16 20:05:30

I've never taken a letter from DDs dad, only ever her birth cert showing that I'm her mother as we have different surnames

gininteacupsandleavesonthelawn Sat 23-Apr-16 20:06:06

Or just forge one? How are they going to know?

notagiraffe Sat 23-Apr-16 20:07:40

Would it not be easier to change her name by deed poll to your surname, and then get her a passport in her new name? Then no airport security would bat an eyelid. they wouldn't even know you weren't married to her father.

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