Many parents like to vacation with their children, to the beach, to a national park, to visit a big city. Some families travel abroad. Parents who are separated, or planning to separate, should include rules about traveling with minor children in their settlement negotiations. Parents can avoid disputes by agreeing to travel protocols in their parenting plan.
A child under the age of 16 must apply for a passport in person. The child must be accompanied by both parents, as required by the federal Two-
Parent Consent Law, and provide proof of the child’s citizenship (U.S. birth certificate; a valid, undamaged U.S. passport (may be expired); a foreign
The following are exceptions to the two-parent consent requirements, allowing the applying parent or legal guardian to apply alone with the child:
A child of 16 or 17 may sign a passport application on their own behalf but must show parental awareness:
What are best practices for parents when a child travels without both parents?
A parent who objects to issuance of a U.S. passport to his or her minor child can place an alert with the Department of State’s CPIAP. In that event, the Department of State will notify the parent when a passport application has been submitted; the objecting parent has 30 days to file an objection. CPIAP does not track use of the passport nor prevent a parent with dual nationality from obtaining a foreign passport.
A child who is a U.S. citizen may also have or acquire citizenship of another country by birth outside of the U.S., a parent’s citizenship, or naturalization. A foreign national parent may obtain a foreign passport for a child and, depending on the country, the child may travel on a parent’s foreign passport.
According to the Department of State, here are some steps parents can take to find out about another country’s requirements for issuance of a foreign passport:
To head off future disputes, divorcing parents should attempt to resolve their child-related issues in a parenting plan or custody agreement. A parenting plan should provide protocols to deal with travel in the United States and abroad, which may include:
A parent may need a court to intervene if there is no prior court order or written parental contract that addresses international travel. A parent may want a court to establish specific travel protocols, such as authority to obtain a passport for a child, or to impose travel restrictions on a parent who is threatening to remove a child outside of the United States.
Depending on the circumstances, a court order may include:
If a parent refuses to follow the terms of a parenting plan or custody agreement, such as provisions related to traveling with children, the other parent can sue to enforce the contract. Similarly, if a parent fails to comply with an order, then the noncompliant parent can be found in contempt of court and subject to civil and criminal penalties. Under some circumstances a parent may be forced to seek an emergency order if his or her travel is imminent. It is always better if parents can cooperate.
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