How Your Ex Can Thwart Your Travel Plans (Part 2)

By Jennifer M. Paine

Attorney, Cordell & Cordell, Detroit office

Note: This is Part 2 of a two-part overview of overseas travel post-divorce. Click here to read Part 1.

Time to Use the Veto?

Has your ex threatened to take your children out of the country without your approval? Maybe to a secret destination? Do you think she has or will apply for passports? Does she already have them?

It may be time for you to exercise your veto with one or more of these options.

Passport Confiscation: State courts have the authority to order a parent to surrender a child’s passport to the court or to a third party of the court’s choosing. The order is enforceable under state law, and the Department of State will honor the order by denying a new or renewal application. 22 CFR 51.27.

The parent obtaining the order should send a certified copy to the Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues with a written request for the Department to deny any passport application.

Alert Program: The Department of State’s Passport Name Check Clearance System alerts parents when it receives a passport application for their child. To sign up for the alert, the party must send a written request to the Department of State with a copy of a birth certificate or other appropriate order as evidence of the parent’s relationship to the child.

The alert request remains in effect until the parent revokes it or the child turns age eighteen, whichever occurs first.

Court Promptness: The Department of State does not track or control passports once issued. Moreover, it is very difficult to locate children once they leave the country. Therefore, seek court action promptly with one of the motions described above.

Prepared Decree: Why not address international travel in your divorce decree? There is no reason not to.

A simple provision like the following restates the Two Parent Consent Law but gives consequences for the unreasonable parent: “Neither party shall travel with the children to a location outside the United States without the other party’s prior consent, which shall not be unreasonably denied; to effectuate this provision, the parties shall promptly execute all reasonably necessary documents, including passport documents, and the non-compliant party shall be responsible for the other party’s actual attorney fees and costs to enforce this provision in this or another court or administrative body.”

Or, if you have a trip planned, try a provision like this: “The parties agree that party X may travel with the children to destination Y. The parties shall promptly execute all reasonably necessary documents, including passport documents, to permit this travel. If party Z fails to cooperate, then this document shall serve as party X’s sole authority to travel with the children, including the authority to obtain passports, and party X shall be entitled to actual attorney fees and costs for having to enforce this provision in this or another court or administrative body.”

If you suspect your ex has abducted your children, contact the police immediately. Make a report, and exhaust all avenues in your jurisdiction to locate your children. Also contact the federal National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

NCMEC works with the Department of Justice and the Department of State to manage international child abduction cases. You should contact an attorney immediately for assistance, as there are time limits as short as one year that may apply.

To Learn More

To learn more about international travel with children, please contact an attorney. You might also contact the Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues by writing to 2A-29, 2201 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20520, by calling (202) 736-9130 or by faxing (202) 736-9131. You may also search online at www.travel.state.gov.

 

Note: This is Part 2 of a two-part overview of overseas travel post-divorce. Click here to read Part 1.

 

Jennifer M. Paine is an Associate Attorney in the Detroit, Michigan office of Cordell & Cordell P.C. She is licensed to practice in Michigan, and has been admitted pro hac vice in Illinois, Ohio, and the United States Court of Federal Claims. Ms. Paine received her BA in English and Mathematics from Albion College and graduated Summa Cum Laude. She received her Juris Doctorate from MSU College of Law and graduated Summa Cum Laude.

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