Some divorced parents want to expose their children to international travel at a young age. While rearing globe-trotting tots may not be a goal of all parents, there are many who choose this type of lifestyle for themselves and their children.
However, American kids 15 and under require both parents to personally appear in order for application to be made for the child to get a passport. Both parents must supply proof of parentage at the time.
As one might imagine, this could get a bit messy if the parties have divorced. Anticipating this, the State Department allows only one parent to make application for the child as long as he or she is able to provide evidence of being the parent with sole legal custody.
Additionally, or in lieu of, said parent can submit a court order that allows him or her to travel out of the United States with the child.
In the vast majority of the cases, there will be no problems and parent and child will return to the states boasting of new adventures. However, the other cases involve nightmare scenarios where the parent simply absconds internationally with his or her child, ignoring the constraints of the American legal system.
If you even think for a nanosecond that your ex is capable of such legal trickery, there is something you can do proactively.
Have your family law attorney petition the court to seek a Ne Exeat surety bond. Meaning “that he not depart” in Latin, the bond is an attempt to ensure your ex will abide by the custody terms set here in the United States. It specifies the destinations and duration of the visit, and the amount is roughly equivalent to what the other parent would have to spend to pursue legal action overseas in the event that the current agreements weren’t upheld.
You can also notify the State Department if you fear that the other parent may try to kidnap your child(ren) internationally. Their Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program can enroll the at-risk children so if passport applications are submitted for them, the State Department tries to inform the parents. They can ensure that consent is genuine.
You can also ask the court to require your ex to make the kids available for virtual visitation during their time away, via Skype or other programs.
Source: Forbes, “Divorced Women: Take Precautions Before Your Children Travel Internationally With Your Ex-Husband,” Jeff Landers, accessed April 21, 2017