Way back when, when we were stuck deep in the throes of trying to move out to Bosnia, we had admin tasks coming out of our ears. We needed letters from the vet for the dog, we needed export licences (again for the dog), we needed letters from doctors with records of vaccinations for the kids, we needed letters from the police confirming that we weren't naughty people. If in doubt, we needed a letter from someone.
There was one letter that I didn't even start to think that I might need. It was only after a visit to the Bosnian British Embassy did we realise that in order for me to fly from London to Sarajevo with the boys on my own, I needed to have a letter from Dave and notarised by a proper official notary (with an official stamp and everything) saying that he gave his consent for me to take our children out of the UK, (indeed out of the EU) and into Bosnia. Without this letter and his consent it would, in theory, not be possible for me to bring our children to Bosnia.
At the time I didn't really give it much thought beyond 'oh damn it, more admin, where are we going to find a notary who can do this cheaply at zero hours notice?'. If I did think any deeper about it, it wouldn't have been anything deeper than 'I guess this requirement is there to stop big mean parents kidnapping their kids' in a Daily Mail sort of way.
I certainly didn't think about what it would be like if Dave and I were not happily married and he hadn't wanted to give his permission. How much that might affect my life, my childrens lives and they way in which I would have to live. I didn't even start to imagine the way in which my choices could be affected, curtailed even, by someone else who was the other parent of my children. How I might not be able to live in the country I wanted to live in, should the father of my children not want me to.
Recently, I've been reading about a fellow English Mummy Blogger, Yummy Mammy. She married an Irishman, and moved to Ireland. Then they got divorced and she now wants to move back to England, to her home to be near her family, friends and support network. No problems with that. The problem comes because she wants to move back to England with their daughter (a distance of 135 miles or so, door to door), and the father is taking legal actions to prevent her from doing so. Now, Ireland is a part of the EU and Yummy Mammy doesn't need a letter to fly with her daughter to the UK. But, she does need to agree with her ex-husband about where her daughter will live. Her ex says Ireland and she, living in a foreign country and wanting to return to her own country, says England. It is an impossible situation.
Yummy Mammy is running a campaign to raise awareness of her situation and highlighting the problems and heart breaking issues surrounding a two country divorce. Please visit her campaign site Save One Mammy and to read more about the background to her predicament then read her post HeartBroke - Part 2. The campaign started on Monday and you should also stop by at Metropolitan Mum and WAHM BAM to read their posts on the issue. Both are poignant and will make you think.