If you are divorced and share custody of minor children, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with federal laws governing travel outside of the United States. The law requires that, married or not, both parents must be present and give consent for acquisition of a passport for a child under the age of 14.

This law, known as the Two-Parent Consent Law and passed in 2001, is part of an international effort to make abduction of children by a non-custodial parent more difficult.

If one parent wishes to apply for a passport for a minor child, that parent must provide at least one of the following:

  • Proof of sole custody
  • A court order allowing the parent to take the child out of the country
  • Written permission by the second parent allowing the child to travel out of the country

In addition, these conditions also apply to issuance of passport to a minor:

  • A grandparent, foster parent or other person who is the legal guardian of a child may apply for a passport in loco parentis - in the legal place of the parent.
  • An attorney or a parent may request that a child be placed on the Children's Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP) lookout system that alerts the parent or attorney if a parent applies for a passport for the child. If there is an issue of custody or danger of abduction by a non-custodial parent, the passport application can be denied.
  • The two-parent law applies to all passport application agencies within the United States, and all consulate offices of the U.S. government abroad.
  • There are occasionally exceptions made to the two-parent law. If a child needs a passport to travel in an emergency, there are expedited procedures available through the state department.

Most parents make travel plans without the intent to kidnap their children. However, the precautions governing travel abroad of minor children are effective in preventing abduction to places the United States government has limited or no authority.

If you want to travel with your children in the future, speak to a divorce attorney about including permission to acquire passports and travelling abroad in your divorce agreement. Steven M. Bishop can help make this and other shared parenting issues run as smoothly as possible. Call the San Diego office at 619-299-9780 or contact us online.

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591 Camino De La Reina Suite 700
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