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QLD Queries on Passport and Travel Issues with Ex?

Discussion in 'Family Law Forum' started by green_eccles, 29 September 2016.

  1. green_eccles

    green_eccles Active Member

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    My concerns are similar to those raised by blue-grass two years ago.

    Family court orders are in place, giving each parent 50% access to the children (now under 11). The court orders also permit international travel subject to certain conditions including:

    a) Travel only to countries which are signatories to Hague Convention re Child Abduction and countries for which no travel warning has been issued by Dept of Foreign Affairs

    b) Travel only in school holidays for a maximum period of 28 days;

    c) Written notice of at least 8 weeks notice of intention to travel

    d) Not less than 21 days before travel, a detailed itinerary of journey to be provided to the other parent.

    All well and good; I agreed on principal to the children to having an opportunity to travel with their father as outlined in the court orders. However ...

    1. The father has advised me that he intends to take the children overseas to UK in Christmas 2017. A month ago, he has delivered to my house incomplete passport application forms for signature. He is demanding that I sign immediately. [This is 16 months prior to travel];

    2. The father has parents overseas but not in UK.

    3. The father refuses to explain why he needs the passports so early; the father refuses to discuss how I will get access to the passports at some future time, refuses to agree to having a third party holding the passports (e.g. ICL) unless there are substantial changes to the existing court orders;

    3. I have told the father that I will sign the passport application forms subject to my having a talk with the court appointed counsellor about this application - but the people concerned are not available for some weeks.

    4. The father has now had his solicitor send me a letter stating that if I do no sign the passport application forms they will be applying to the "Court for the Registrar of the Court" to sign the passport application forms and will be seeking full repayment of all their fees and court costs.

    4. One of my children has told me daddy is going to take us for a holiday at Christmas but mummy has to sign some papers first.

    I cannot afford to keep paying legal costs - the last episode almost wiped me out. If this were to proceed to court. I would have to self represent. The father is able to afford expensive solicitors and barristers who destroyed my original legal representation when the first court orders were established and were almost as successful the second time.

    My question relates to court costs and legal costs of the other party...

    Worst case would be that this goes to court the father is successful and the judge awards all costs against me. Least expensive solution is for me to immediately capitulate and sign the forms.

    At what point in the process, would I become liable for court costs and legal fees. e.g. if a date for the court hearing is obtained, but I had over the signed passport forms the day before the court date. Would I be liable for any court costs or my ex's legal costs? Could the legal firm sue me regardless, especially as I am unrepresented?
     
  2. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    If the father has to spend money to get your signature on the passports via legal avenues, then he can (and I would say should) pursue a costs order from the moment that initiating application for the parenting order about passports is filed.

    He's met the conditions of the orders. He isn't under any obligation to meet conditions you personally impose, as well.
     
  3. green_eccles

    green_eccles Active Member

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    AllforHer - thank you for your reply.

    There is nothing in the court order about passports;

    Reminds me of the golden rule - he who has the gold makes the rules (or at least is able to manipulate the legal system to achieve their desired outcomes)
     
  4. sammy01

    sammy01 Well-Known Member

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    Are you likely to take the kids OS anytime in the next 5 years? If yes - then pay half of the passport application fee. Go on, I dare ya. Then when you want the passports, it would seem reasonable for him to hand them over...

    Why is he demanding 16 months out? So, that if you make it difficult he has time to take it to court. If he asked you to sign the passports 3 months out and you refused then he would have no chance of getting to court before the planned travel.

    Fair enough... He could have said to you that the reason he wants the passports so early is because He expects you to be difficult over it but if he said that to you, how would you respond?

    How to keep this out of court? Sign the forms... Just to give you perspective. My ex agreed to travel, signed passport applications etc. Then 3 weeks out 'changed' her mind. It just messes people around.
    I don't think the ICL or anyone else is going to be willing to hold the passports so they are not with you or with him...

    Given the details in the current orders OS travel is obviously something both parties agreed was likely to happen. So is a magistrate likely to be grump with you for making this come back to court? i reckon so.

    Make it easy and that way he is more likely to encourage the kids to Skype you while OS.... And he is more likely to agree for you to travel with the kids down the track.

    So here is a simple question... Why not just sign the forms?
     
  5. green_eccles

    green_eccles Active Member

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    Sammy1,

    I am unlikely to (ever) have the money to travel overseas with the children {lotto excepted}.

    The ex wanted the international travel inserted into the last set of court orders. I had concerns at the time about the inclusion of such orders, but my legal representation didn't give me much opportunity to refuse. (As I said his parents were O/S). I fully expect him to disappear with the children into his family embrace once he starts travelling.

    Would be nice to think that your 2nd last paragraph would apply, but he is more likely to discourage them from communicating with me regardless. If the court orders are to be applied equally, he would not be able to disagree with my travelling with the children on my time, provided that I follow the court orders - unless you are of the opinion that the ex should have right of veto of my potential travel plans?
     
  6. sammy01

    sammy01 Well-Known Member

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    So why not just sign the forms?

    Obviously, you've given consent for the travel that is why he is getting passports.

    Now about him discouraging the kids from communicating with you... Well, he seems to be encouraging the kids to discuss your reluctance to sign the paperwork with you. And you are implicitly vetoing his travel plans by making it difficult...

    So why not sign the forms? Start looking at the big picture. Kids get to travel, great, and so why make it difficult? So go on answer - why not sign the forms? And pay half the application costs for good measure.

    Hey, I have been where you are. Fights every bloody holidays about when the holidays start. Fights over the clothes I put on the kids, fights over medical stuff. Fights - fights - fights. You don't have to fight anymore because you're not married anymore. So why not starting to mend some fences. Go on dare ya.
     
  7. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    I understand that the prospect of the kids going on holidays abroad without you is an enormous pill to swallow, and I don't want to grill you because I think you're already aware that he's probably going to get the passports signed one way or another, but I do want to say that I am inclined to agree with @sammy01 on this one.

    I don't really agree this is a matter of 'he who has the gold makes the rules' or a matter of manipulating the legal system to achieve his desired outcome. To me, it just sounds like a dad wanting to take his kids overseas on holidays, and you trying to find some way to stop that from happening (or at least make it as difficult and expensive as possible).

    What you're going to find, though, is that the kids are old enough to start working out where the problem lies, and you really don't have any valid justifications for refusing them an amazing white Christmas in the UK. At 11 years of age, it probably doesn't matter what dad says to the kids about the situation, you're still going to come away looking like the bad guy because it'll essentially be your fault that they missed out, and they're old enough to work that out on their own.

    If he's also had to go to Court twice before to settle disputes about parenting, then he is probably expecting you to be difficult such that he will need time to get it heard at Court before the travel dates come around. At the moment, you're following the exact script he expects you to, and it has potential to cost you a lot of money in his legal fees. I think that risk is heightened even more so because you've already consented to orders, under legal advice, that facilitate overseas travel. The Court would not be pleased about having to hear the matter because 'passports aren't mentioned in the orders' and you've interpreted that to present a loophole to get out of your former agreement.

    Finally, I don't believe your fears of him relocating permanently are genuine. It would be hard to argue that he's at risk of not returning with the kids from the UK when he's obviously got a well-paying job in Australia and his family is not in the UK, and it would be harder again to justify such fears when the kids don't have passports yet and aren't travelling until December next year. If your fears were genuine, I also suspect you'd be here asking for guidance about the Airport Watch List, not about whether or not you'll get pinned with legal fees for refusing until the last possible minute before trial.

    So, my suggestion is to apply your common sense. Dad's probably going to get the passports one way or another, but you can either agree and pay nothing, or force him to file an application with the Court and risk having a costs order made against you.
     
  8. green_eccles

    green_eccles Active Member

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    Sammy01

    I have bowed to the inevitable. I have already stated that I don't have the money to travel (or to pay passport application fees). I don't have an issue with my children having the option to travel - just want safeguards that nobody cares about.

    It is difficult to mend fences when he is continually claiming that we should be co-parenting so that I let him use my access time to allow the children to undertake his chosen activities (especially for sport).

    Before you say this should be for the development of the child, there are many sports that can be chosen, but he only wants winter or summer team sports that require matches every weekend and training one or two times every week.

    It can be equally argued that the sports I choose for the children are equally important and don't require impinging on his access time.
     
  9. green_eccles

    green_eccles Active Member

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    AllforHer

    Thank you for your reply and help. I appreciate the effort made by you and others to educate me to the realities of the situation.

    While it would be nice to think that the 'gold' does not make a difference in our legal system, I think it is a fair statement that having more of it enables one to engage more expensive and experienced legal expertise and that lack of it means that one is more unlikely to try for breaches of court orders unless one is prepared to go the 'self represent' route and I am not smart enough to survive that type of treatment.

    I am sure I am coming across to some people as a 'whingeing' person in not being able to apparently 'get my way' but they don't know my situation and I don't know theirs.
     
  10. sammy01

    sammy01 Well-Known Member

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    Ok, so lets keep the issues separate. Sign the application forms. Easy.

    That has nothing to do wit weekend sport. Your weekend, your choice. Easy. He can take you to court on that one if he wants but he will lose.

    Yes, it is difficult to continually mend fences. But so is looking for ways to continue the battle. Which one do you prefer?
     

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