Obtaining a Passport for a Child in a Divorced Home

Traveling outside of the United States can become complicated in the best of circumstances. When you desire to have your minor child accompany you and you’re no longer married or together with his or her other parent, the situation can grow complex in a hurry. The federal government imposes strict regulations about obtaining consent from both parents when obtaining a passport for a child under the age of 16. This is to prevent one parent from kidnapping the child or taking him or her out of the country without the other parent’s knowledge or approval.

If your former spouse is willing to cooperate, the best way to obtain a passport for your child is for all of you to appear in person. Both biological or legal adoptive parents must sign the application in the presence of a clerk. Some exceptions to this rule do exist, such as when you have sole legal and physical custody of your child. In that situation, the passport office requires only your signature.

How to Obtain a Passport for Your Child as the Sole Legal Authority

Another possible time when you could apply for a passport without your ex’s signature is when you can prove that your child needs one for health or welfare reasons or for unique family circumstances. However, you would need to request a court order to obtain a passport for your minor child in this situation. Keep in mind that it takes an average of four to six weeks to receive a passport after applying for one unless you request expedited service which takes two to three weeks.

According to the United States Department of State, you will need the following documents to apply for a passport for your child as the sole legal authority:

  • A custody order, divorce decree, or other legal document that states you have sole legal custody of the child
  • A court order that permits you to apply for a passport on behalf of your minor child
  • A certified copy of your child’s birth certificate or adoption decree that lists you as the only parent
  • A certified copy of a judicial declaration of incompetence regarding the other parent
  • A certified copy of the death certificate of the other parent

What to do if the Other Parent is Willing to Sign but Unable to Appear

If your former spouse or partner grants permission for the passport but can’t sign the application in person, he or she can complete Form DS-3053 entitled Statement of Consent. This must take place in the presence of a notary public. The child’s other parent must also include a photocopy of the front and back of his or her driver’s license or other photo identification to accompany the Statement of Consent.

Other Situations

If the child’s other parent is estranged but you don’t have sole legal authority, the Department of State requires you to complete a special form entitled Statement of Exigent or Special Family Circumstances. This is Form DS-5525. You should complete this form in as much detail as possible. The Department of State may request additional information from you, such as a copy of a restraining order, custody order, or order of incarceration. This is to help guard against international parental kidnapping.

When neither you nor your former partner can appear to sign the passport application, you may send a third party in your place. He or she must provide a notarized statement from each parent that grants permission to apply for a child’s passport on behalf of one of the parents. The statement also needs to include a photocopy of the front and back of the driver’s license or other form of legal identification of each parent. If only one parent signs a statement, the person applying on that parent’s behalf must provide evidence of his or her sole custody.

Get Help with This and Other Family Law Issues

Cate & Brough Law Firm handles a wide range of family law issues, including divorce, custody, and child support. If you need help navigating these emotional and complex situations, please contact us at 864-585-4226 to request a confidential consultation with a family law attorney.

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Cate & Brough, P.A.

At Cate & Brough, we all have personal experience with family law and family court. We know more than just what the law says about your issue – we know what you are going through.

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