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Advice / experience please: LP taking children abroad

(19 Posts)
hopeforthebestplanfortheworst Fri 14-Nov-14 00:17:42


I am a LP with 2 children both born outside of marriage. Oldest has father on birth certificate (so PR), youngest doesn't. Both have his surname. He has had no contact with oldest child in 4 yrs and never bothered to meet youngest. He pays maintenance but through CSA deduction of earnings and against his wishes.

I got passports for my children yrs ago & have been recently been feeling it's the right time to organise our first trip abroad.

Then I start hearing / reading potential issues... I may be stopped at border control here or abroad (then sent home) as we have different surnames, although I think (?) taking a copy of their birth certificates would solve this?

...more worrying, as the father is on the birth certificate of the elder child & he has PR I am not allowed to take them out of the country without the fathers permission, or I could be done for abduction.

The issue I have is that he has no contact with me or our children so how does a situation like this work? I don't know where he is, CSA must know but it's not information I have access to. I could maybe make contact via his mother if she's where she was yrs ago or possibly through past mutual friends but I am really scared of opening up that can of worms & reigniting any form of contact. He was not a nice person and being in our children's life in any way will be detrimental without question. He has an emotionally abusive / controlling past with me, I really don't want to go there again with our children.

Does anyone know my options please?? Do I need a residence order (or whatever its called these days)? I've read you have to have made reasonable steps to contact the father to get one, I don't know where he lives or works & CSA wouldn't tell me due to data protection so don't know what that means to my situation.

Surely it's not in my child's interests that we literally cannot go abroad until they're 16/18 yrs old. He is absent, we live in same place as when he left so he would've made contact if he'd wanted to, I have raised them on my own for yrs with no input (beyond unreliable forced financial support)... how can we be in a situation where he can stop something which would be good & normal & fun & life enhancing for my wonderful child who already deals with the unavoidable disadvantages having one parent brings.

I am so very upset by this & hoping I've misunderstood. Any advice / experiences gratefully received. They just want to go to a different country like their friends and why shouldn't they sad

Sorry this is so long, thanks for reading. I probably won't be back online til tm eve so I'm not ignoring any replies posted before then.


planomum Fri 14-Nov-14 04:13:56

Please do not worry - my son is 11 and we have been travelling since he was 3 - no contact with his father - we have different names also - no issues in all of EU, Africa, US, Australia. Only place that was an issue was Canada and I know of others having the same experience there. I got in as I explained UK was a no order jurisdiction i.e. as father had not sought access or custody there was no court order to produce but was advised to get a letter from solicitor explaining the situation (i.e. no court order and no contact with father and no idea where father is) to bring with me for next time.

socially Fri 14-Nov-14 05:16:48

Don't worry.
You can take them on holiday. The rules on abduction only apply if you are taking them for over 30 days and there are grounds to assume you are not going to return. If you have a house and a job etc and you are clearly only going on holiday then you have no reason to worry.

In any case, your ex would have to be the one to complain to the court, which as he has no contact, and would have no idea you were even away, there is little chance of.

I agree with you that it would be useful to take both children's birth certificates as proof you are their parent.

Enjoy your holiday!

cestlavielife Fri 14-Nov-14 10:01:14

just be prepared for being asked or your dc being asked at border control is this your mother?
have copies of birth certs with you showing you are indeed their mother . if it's a holiday then just produce documentation showing it was a holiday you unlikely to have further problem even if they ask.

JessBear123 Fri 14-Nov-14 12:49:18

Hey! We have done it many of time with no issues.
All though the father new we were going.
As long as you have proof of holiday i.e return flight, for if anyone asks, cant see how it would be a problem!
And I will admit I have had a few issues with border control coming back into UK but all that is needed is birth certificate and your I.D.
Don't worry...just have a nice holiday!

BertieBotts Fri 14-Nov-14 12:52:49

Do it, take birth certs, I have a different surname to DS and we live abroad so it's a pain. They just ask him "Is this your mummy?" and sometimes "Where's Dad?" which confuses him because he calls DH (stepfather) dad.

I've been told I should carry a letter but I haven't seen XP for four years and have no idea where he lives etc so fat chance of that. Luckily I've never had to explain that in front of DS because I think it would be upsetting and confusing for him to have to hear it every time.

JessBear123 Fri 14-Nov-14 12:53:37

Sorry just to state in the last message...we had issues with different surnames. Also you don't need the actual birth cert just the copy. Although rues might be different where you are smile

TooManyCuddlies Fri 14-Nov-14 13:04:55

Don't worry, I'm sure you will be fine.

Last time we went through passport control, the man looked at passports, then said (in enthusiastic I-am-good-with-children voice) "So, who is <DD name?> (Other members of the family look round for DD and usher her forwards.)

Passport man: Ooh, hello you're <DD name> are you?
DD looks blank and shakes her head slightly.
Passport man (jovially): Did I say your name wrong? How do you say your name?
DD:<whispers> I don't know.
Awkward silence.

Fortunately they still let us into the country, despite DD's best efforts!

meglet Sun 16-Nov-14 18:46:29

IIRC from other similar threads you should get a court order to prove you are only going on holiday, or something. I've asked on here in the past, totally absent and abusive XP with PR who I can't ask. Not been abroad yet but I'd like to take the DC's to Paris for the day in the future.

Although from the look of it most single parents don't seem to have a problem going abroad. Except Canada!

socially Sun 16-Nov-14 20:09:22

meglet you definitely don't need a court order.

It's up to the other parent to get a court order to stop you in most cases, which they can do on the grounds that they don't think you are coming back or that it unreasonably affects their access.

I needed a court order last year but that's because we were away over 30 days and exH was practically preventing us from leaving (through lawyers etc).

BertieBotts Sun 16-Nov-14 20:31:58

Yep, other way around. They need a court order to stop you, and they're unlikely to get one unless you're seriously abusive or something.

meglet Sun 16-Nov-14 21:32:08

I've had a look for the old thread on this but I can't find it. I was advised to use a solicitor / go to court to prove I was going to bring the dc's back again. Apparently I could be granted 2 weeks out of the country. Because I can't get permission from XP with PR then I would be abducting them by taking them abroad and the court (or form?) would make it legal for me to leave the country.

I'm annoyed now, I thought I'd saved the thread in 'I'm watching' so I could refer back to it, it had the link to the court form too. I swear I didn't dream it confused.

CantBeBotheredThinking Sun 16-Nov-14 21:44:14

Meglet technically you do need a court order if you do not have a residence order and can not get consent from the other parent however it would only become a problem if the other parent with pr discovered you had gone on holiday and reported it to the police. Technically you can't even allow the dc to go on a day trip abroad as part of a school trip even but the chances of anything happening are extremely low to the point of ignoring them.

If you have a residence order issued by a court then you can take them without consent and in that instance the other parent would need to apply to court to prevent you.

meglet Sun 16-Nov-14 22:02:53

Thank you cantbe. No residence order here sadly, a solicitor advised me I'd have to find XP to ask him hmm. Glad I didn't imagine it.

Lucyccfc Thu 20-Nov-14 06:38:56

I have been taking my DS abroad since he was 2 and never had any issues. Never been stopped or asked any questions and we have been to places like US, Brazil, UAE etc. DS was asked once 'what is your name?' And 'who,is,the lady you are with?'.

We have never needed or asked for permission from DS's Dad. I just book and go.

Stay clear from solicitors (unless your Ex has specifically said you can't take your children abroad). They just want to make money out of you.

hopeforthebestplanfortheworst Mon 24-Nov-14 22:56:42

Wow thanks all, lots of experiences and advice. Thank you.

Sorry it's taken me a while to get back here, lots of other yucky things going on and this week I've been too drained to do anything bar essential chores once the kids in bed.

I contacted CORAM(?) a free legal advice service to do with children. Basically at the moment it is illegal for me to take my kids away but, due to their father not being present for a long period ~4 yrs, I can apply to the courts for a child arrangement order (prev. called residence order) to confirm they live with me and this will allow me to take them abroad for up to 28 days. When applying to court (which I can do myself and represent myself as case should be straight forward apparently) I fill out a form - can find the form ref if anyone else needs it - and pay the court fee of £215. Some ppl can get reduced court costs depending on income etc. Strictly speaking when filling in the form I have to show I've made reasonable attempts to contact him but I will state I have no means of where to start, the courts may or may not look for him depending how much they feel it is of the children's interest. As my application wouldn't be changing anything for them really, more formalising our current set up, it's unlikely they'd put too much resource into finding him. Yay.

This has led me on to considering about their names too. Life would be easier if we all had the same surname and I actually love my name and would love them to have it too, like a proper & more conventional family unit, I'm doing all the hard work and they are MY kids, he has literally turned out to be a sperm donor, the more I ponder this issue the more in love I fall with us all sharing a surname. It can be done on the same form as the CAO above so at no extra cost, so if I'm ever going to do it then this would be the time. However the court would probably view this as more critical to involve him as it IS changing something in their lives (well just the older one he'd have a say with but what I'd do with one I'd do with the other, not having differences between them) so they would make more effort to find him. He tried to hide from CSA but they found him so I have to assume the courts would too if they really wanted to. If he was to object he'd need to attend court & put forward a reason why they should keep him name, which it is unlikely would be backed by court due to a total lack of relationship / contact / identity with him. But it would potentially open a can of worms.

Until I make a decision on changing their surnames, the CAO (and foreign hols) will have to wait. sad

But I am glad to know where I stand.

I am not brave enough to try my luck and take them away with out full rights, the cost of court would be less than the cost of a lost holiday if we weren't allowed to leave the country. I'm the unlucky type who would get stopped and refused!

queenofthepirates Mon 24-Nov-14 23:06:40

I shouldn't worry too much, most border authorities are busy looking for families that don't look 'right'. If your kids are happy with you, you'll go through without issue. We've travelled to the US and all over Europe without issue and never been asked for a BC or any other proof.

InaPuckle Tue 25-Nov-14 00:07:18

Last time I returned to the UK from a holiday, I was instructed by the border control agent that I should carry DS's birth certificate because we have different surnames. I did point out to him that it was hardly unusual for kids to have different surnames but he said it was easy just to carry a copy of the birth certificate folded up tucked inside the passport. I don't think he's ever travelled with kids, I can imagine DS dropping the birth certificate from the back while admiring his own passport picture.

meglet Tue 25-Nov-14 19:27:04

hope that was the form I was on about. I didn't know they expected you to try and contact the father. XP would be furious if he thought I was doing something nice like going abroad. I was hoping to just inform the courts and go! Absent fathers have too many rights over children they don't care about angry.

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