Let’s say you are a divorced parent hoping to take a trip out of the country with the kids, but your former spouse is not supportive of the idea. Are you allowed to leave the country anyway? The short answer is maybe. An experienced local family law and divorce attorney can address these, and other related issues in your specific case.
Divorced Parent Traveling With Kids
If you have shared physical and/or legal custody of the child/children, then each divorced parent has a legal right to participate in decisions regarding travel. A divorced parent who has sole custody has more latitude to make such decisions, but is required to provide documentation to prove their legal status. According to the State Department’s Public Law 116-113, the consent of both divorced parents is required before any child under the age of 16 may be issued a passport. Certain documents are required in the event both parents cannot be present during the application process. Depending on your circumstances, one or more of the following may be necessary during the application process:
- The court order or divorce decree that grants the divorced parent sole custody of the child/children;
- A court order that explicitly defines the divorced parent’s right to apply for a passport or to travel internationally;
- A signed, dated, and notarized Form DS-3053 Statement of Consent from your former spouse along with a photocopy of their ID.
Flagging Kid’s Passport Applications
A divorced parent of minor children can also request to have their child/children’s names entered into the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program. This is a system that automatically notifies the parent in the event someone else, such as a former spouse, attempts to apply for a passport.
If Parents Were Never Married
In the event a child’s parents have never married, both still have the right to block a passport application if both of their names are on the child’s birth certificate. The exception is in a case in which one has been granted sole legal custody in a family court.
If Children Already Have Passports
What if your children had passports prior to the divorce? Can you or your spouse take the child/children out of the country without the other’s consent? If your divorce does not specifically address travel outside the United States, it is possible for such travel to occur. However, in the event that there is a serious concern about one parent absconding with the children with no plans to return, you should definitely consider getting a court order preventing international travel. The court can also require one parent to surrender the child/children’s passports to the other, or to keep the passports in the possession of the court.
Taking the Trip
Unfortunately, sometimes parental disputes continue long after the divorce is finalized. If you find yourself facing roadblocks in order to take the family vacation you are hoping for, or, conversely, if you are fearful that your former spouse’s travel intentions are nefarious, the experienced legal team at Beck Law can help. If you live in Sonoma County, Mendocino County or Lake County California, contact us in Santa Rosa today for a confidential consultation.