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Frequently Asked Questions About Passports For Children From Divorced Families

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Summer is here and parents everywhere are planning vacations and travel. For parents who are either recently divorced or who are undergoing a divorce, this can be a tricky time. Getting a passport for your child either during a divorce or after a recent divorce settlement can involve getting the cooperation of your ex-spouse. The commonly asked questions and answers found below can help you get the passport for your child before your upcoming summer vacation. 

Q: Will I need to get permission from my current (or ex) spouse in order to obtain a passport for my child?

A: Children under age 16 cannot get a passport without the consent of both parents. The U.S. Department of state requires both parents to show up in person in to apply for the passport. However, if you're currently going through a divorce and your spouse is unwilling to show up to apply for your child's passport with you, you can still apply for your child's passport by having him or fill out a notarized Statement of Consent form. Without this form, you will either need a court order giving you permission to apply for the passport alone, or you will need proof that you are the sole guardian of your child. This proof may include: 

  • Death certificate of the other parent.
  • Declaration of incompetence of the other parent.
  • Court order declaring that you have sole custody of your child.

Q: Can I get a passport for my child and leave the country if my custody case is still unresolved? 

A: In addition to fulfilling the passport requirements stated above, you'll need to get permission from the judge overseeing your case before taking your child out of the country. Consult with your divorce attorney before seeking permission from the judge to find out if this will affect your case. 

Q: What if my spouse refuses to sign the Statement of Consent form? 

A: In some cases, the judge may bypass your spouse's signature (or ex-spouse, whichever the case may be) and sign the Statement of Consent form. You can bring your statement of consent form to the judge and ask him or her to give you permission to leave the country with your child. If he or she does not grant you permission, you will not be able to legally take your child or children out of the country.

For more information and advice, speak with a divorce attorney like Finocchio & English. He or she will be able to answer your questions and give you guidance as you try to make arrangements to leave the country this summer.