I've seen occasional reference on the boards and elsewhere to solicitors holding children's passports and releasing them to either parent when required. This sounds like what we need!
Has anyone got any actual examples of this or firms that offer this as a service? I'm going to write to some local solicitor firms to ask them to quote, but then as part of writing started getting into the detail of how the actual agreement would be crafted, and of course it's not simple as it first sounds. For example:
1. Does the firm validate that the requested time falls within either party's court-ordered care time before releasing the passport?
2. What if the passport is needed in advance of travel, for example to obtain visas?
3. What if both parties have back to back travel plans with handovers at a time the solicitor is not open?
4. What is to stop one party retrieving the passport and maliciously holding on to it past their agreed return time? What does the firm do if the passport is not return as agreed?
5. How does the firm keep appraised of care time variations agreed between the parties? What should the firm do if the parties are in dispute?
6. How should the release mechanism work - should it be that both parties have to agree each release (problematic!), or that the firm should release on being provided with evidence of flight bookings or similar?
7. Should the firm notify the other party of the passport being released, or only in the event that it is not returned as agreed?
and so on... there's actually quite a lot to it! Obviously the more work we need the solicitor to do, the more expensive the service will end up costing... and in high-conflict situations you have to try to anticipate every possible scenario and close loopholes if you don't want a lot of hassle down the line. If someone's done the hard work and thinking already that would be great!
All advice or experience gratefully received, thank you.
Well I've got in touch with several local solicitor firms and none of them are interested in providing such a service. I'll keep trying - in the meantime here is what I think the service should look like in terms of definition:
i. The parties are jointly and equally liable for any base service cost, and individually liable for any cost associated with retrieving the passport for the purpose of their travel;
ii. Either party should make their request to the solicitors at least two weeks in advance, supplying the reason for the requirement including flight, train or ferry details and destination addresses (as per CAO ref para # );
iii. If the solicitor considers the requirement to be unreasonable or likely to breach the CAO then they should refer the request to the other parent for approval;
iv. In the event that the parties are in dispute then the solicitor should retain the passport pending agreement or a court decision via a SIO;
v. If the parties have ‘back to back’ holiday plans then the solicitor will notify both requesting parents and the passport should be handed over with [child's name];
vi. If the party with the passport does not return it within 14 days of their requested holiday dates, then the solicitor should notify the other parent.
vii. The parties are equally and jointly liable for the renewal costs of the passport;
viii. The passport should be renewed between 1 year and 6 months before its expiry date. [Parent] should renew the passport unless there is joint agreement otherwise.
ix. If the passport is lost or stolen when in the possession of one parent, that parent is liable for the full costs of replacement. The parent who was not in possession of the passport when it was lost or stolen should apply for the permanent replacement passport.