Q: I had agreed with my ex that I could take the children abroad on holiday this summer. She is now refusing to give me their passports and is saying she is taking them abroad with her new partner. Can she do this?
A: Provided you are named on the children’s birth certificates and were present at the birth then you have parental responsibility. It is a criminal offence to take a child out of the UK without the consent of everybody with parental responsibility unless the court has given permission. However, if an Order has been made saying that the children are to live with your ex and she has what used to be called a Residence Order, she may take the children out of the UK for a month at a time without consulting you.
With regard to her partner, it is usually assumed that a parent is able to make a decision as to whom the children should spend time with whilst they are in that parent’s care. So unless you have serious concerns as to her new partner’s suitability to be around children there is not much you can do.
Nevertheless, in relation to your planned holiday, I would suggest that you make an urgent application to the Court for a Specific Issue Order whereby you will be asking the Court to uphold the agreement reached between you and the children’s mother that they would go on holiday with you. If the Court makes such an Order it will also order the passports to be delivered up to you.
When considering whether to make the Order, the Court will simply have regard to whether the holiday is in the ‘best interests’ of the children, as per the Children Act 1989. A solicitor can advise help you with the application.