Yesterday, I went to court because my ex-husband had refused to sign passport applications for the children or to give his permission for me to take them to the UK (for my sister’s wedding). I have sole custody, and I am solely responsible for every aspect of my children’s lives. I decide where, when and if they go to school, what medical treatment they do or don’t receive, what they can or can’t eat, and what religion they practise (if any). I decide everything and I do everything for the children – except whether or not I can take them to visit my family, that is. And since all of my family live in the UK, there is no way for us to see each other without major travel and expense.
I’m quite sure that I am not the only double parent with sole custody who has had to resort to legal action to be allowed to take their own children on holiday. I had thought that having sole custody was enough to be allowed to travel with my own children. It used to be, but now it’s not! When applying for children’s passports, the passport agency now requires that both parents sign the application form or that you have a court order dispensing with the need for the other parent’s signature. That’s what I had to do yesterday.
Before I even got to court, there was lots of legal paperwork and preparation to be done. I had to write a motion (a motion is when you ask the judge to make a court order) that explains fully why it is in the best interests of the children to travel. I then had to write a notice to appear (in court) for my ex. Then I had to have the papers served on my ex and then file the motion and an affidavit of service with the court. Two days before the court date, I had to file a confirmation that the case would be going to court. Sigh. It was very stressful. The court date was scheduled for 23 October, 2012 at 10:00am.
As I was on my way to the courthouse, it suddenly occurred to me that I would to have to wait outside the court in the same waiting area as my ex, and then have to face him again in court. I was not happy about that. What I was happy about was the fact that neither he nor his lawyer showed up. The judge wasn’t too impressed either. The judge double-checked my affidavit of service and verified that my ex’s lawyer had had proper notification of the court date and motion. Then my request was granted. The judge wrote up the court order there and then. All I had to do was to get it typed on the official form, have the clerk of the court stamp it with the court’s official seal and I was on my way to the passport office.
While I am happy that I got what I wanted, I am angry that I had to go through all this trouble to get it. Not only was the only thing a waste of tax payer money but a waste of my time, energy, and money. My ex-husband didn’t even have the decency to show up. He obviously knew he was going to lose because there are no good reasons for him to not sign the children’s passports applications. His intention all along was cause to me stress. If my ex had really opposed the children’s travel plans, he would’ve had shown up and explained his reasoning.
My question is this: When are the courts going to put a stop to this kind of behavior?