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Where should a child’s passport live?

When parents separate the issues that usually require the courts intervention are where a child will live and what time a child will spend with an absent parent.

However, one question that is on the rise is “where should a child’s passport live?”

If parties are/were married or an unmarried father’s name is registered on a child’s birth certificate that father will automatically acquire parental responsibility. In such cases, where one parent wishes to take their children abroad the consent of all parties with parental responsibility is required and should not be unreasonably withheld. Giving consent however is one thing; as without a passport a child cannot leave the country. The law as it stands does not provide for where a child’s passport should live in the event of their parents’ separation. The consequences of this are that some children are being prevented from travelling, often at the last minute.

Actions of a parent like this can result in urgent applications being made to the court for the surrender of a child’s passport at the eleventh hour. Those that run out of time, or are unsuccessful, suffer not only the cost of a failed holiday but potentially the additional financial burden of making an application to the Court; not to mention the emotional torture of having to explain to their child that they can’t go after all.

Some parents secure orders in relation to their children which reflect what the arrangements will be for the surrender of a child’s passport but even then, despite carefully crafted orders, creative excuses are used such as the passport is lost, damaged or stolen just hours before a trip, making it impossible to rectify the situation before the planned departure.

Some parents may find themselves desperate to resolve this situation and consequently make concessions in respect of other arrangements such as where a child will be over Christmas, birthdays or for financial demands.

Sometimes there may be genuine reasons why travel should not take place but can it genuinely be said that depriving your child of a holiday is in their best interests?

Anyone finding themselves in such a situation, or fear that such a situation may arise, should seek advice at the earliest opportunity. Don’t leave it to the last minute as last minute deals may not always be available when negotiating with your former partner.

Do you have issues with arrangements for your child following separation? Call and speak to our highly experienced team today – 01302 320621 or email

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