By Sara Pitcher
Travel outside of the country may be substantially more difficult or even prohibited all together, especially if the travel would be to a country that is not a party to the Hague Convention.
Obtaining A Passport
In order to cross the border into another country, the child will need to have a passport.
To obtain a passport, the minor child under age 16 must appear in person. The parent must submit proof of their relationship to the minor child by providing one of several approved documents, such as a certified birth certificate showing the parent’s name or a certified adoption decree.
Both parents may appear together and show proof of identification at that time, if possible. A photocopy of the identification document provided must be submitted at the time of application for passport.
The consent of both parents is required before a passport can be issued for a minor child. This consent can be obtained by both parents appearing in person with the minor child and signing a form DS-11 in front of an acceptance agent.
If one parent is present and the parties have joint legal custody, the appearing parent will have to sign the DS-11 form in front of the acceptance agent and submit the other parent’s notarized Statement of Consent. It is important to note that the Statement of Consent must be signed within the three months prior to the application or else it expires.
If the applying parent has sole legal custody, he/she must present the court order granting sole legal custody (unless the order restricts travel) in order to apply for the child’s passport.
If both parents are alive and only one parent will be traveling with the child, the traveling parent will need to have the signed and notarized authorization form with them during travel as well.
If the other parent will not consent to the travel, the applying parent can request permission from the court to travel with the child.
Unfortunately, courts are relatively hesitant to approve foreign travel requests, especially to countries that have not signed the Hague Convention because it will be very difficult to return the child to the United States if the traveling parent fails to return the child to the United States.
The Travel Veto:
The Hague Convention
The Hague Convention applies to international parental abduction cases where a child under the age of 16 is abducted to a country that is also a party to the Hague Convention. If a child is abducted to a country that signed the Hague Convention, the parent remaining in the United States will need to complete an application with the United States Department of State.
In order to complete this application, the filing parent must have had joint or sole legal custody at the time of the abduction and either did not give permission for the travel or did not agree to the retention of the child in the country past the agreed upon time. This application should be submitted as soon as possible after the abduction or wrongful retention. If more than one year passes, the parent could be barred from pursuing his case.
In order to pursue a case for the return of the child, the parent applying for the return of the child under the Hague Convention will have to attend hearings in the foreign country and often have to hire counsel in that country if the taking parent does not voluntarily agree to return the child.
Even though a parent may apply for relief under the Hague, there are still circumstances in which the child will not have to be returned. For this reason, judges are hesitant to permit travel to foreign countries if one parent does not consent.
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