Caution coincides with concerns over passport application backlog
Separated and divorced parents are putting of tackling the topic of their children’s passports.
The backlog caused by the surge in new passport applications is worrying. The UK Passport Office is advising people that the process could take up to 10 weeks.
According to the charity National Family Mediation (NFM), passports regularly feature as an area of conflict for warring exes.
In the last 18 months the charity has helped more than 150 couples who couldn’t agree about passports.
Have you got your passports yet?
Passports are likely to be a particularly hot topic this year. As many families look to enjoy their first trip abroad since the start of the pandemic.
It is possible for one person with parental responsibility to apply without the other person’s permission. However, Jane Robey, CEO of NFM, doesn’t recommend it. In a worst case scenario, your former spouse might even apply to the courts to block the application.
“Holidays abroad are supposed to be fun and exciting”, Jane explains. “They are likely to be even more so this year. Given the fact that many families haven’t been able to travel of late as a result of Covid-19. However, for couples in conflict, passports for the children and travel to another country can also be a contentious topic”.
Why are passports an issue?
One or other parent might feel nervous about the kids going abroad without them, or with their ex’s new partner. They might not like a former spouse spending money on a trip away. When they feel more should be going towards child support.
“When one parent feels particularly strongly about the issue, it’s not uncommon for them refuse to approve a passport application, which inevitably leads to further disagreements.”
Jane has urged any parents who are hoping to go on holiday this year to raise any concerns with their ex-partner as soon as possible. Especially in light of the wider issues and delays relating to passport applications.
“If your relationship is too fragmented, it is worth considering speaking to a professional mediator. They are highly skilled third-party negotiators with experience in helping families.”
Get Financial Support
Currently couples wanting to discuss children matters can also access the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme which is worth up to £500. So there is no reason to worry about financing it.
In addition to the family mediation voucher scheme, Legal Aid also remains available for family mediation.