Does a Minor With Divorced Parents Need Permission From Both Parents to Exit the Country?

By Ciele Edwards

Whether you have family in another country, take a job outside the United States, or simply want to take your child on an international vacation, exiting the country with children in tow is more complicated than exiting the country on your own – especially if you are divorced from your child's other parent. In addition to proving your child's identity, you must also provide documentation demonstrating that your former spouse agreed to the trip.

Whether you have family in another country, take a job outside the United States, or simply want to take your child on an international vacation, exiting the country with children in tow is more complicated than exiting the country on your own – especially if you are divorced from your child's other parent. In addition to proving your child's identity, you must also provide documentation demonstrating that your former spouse agreed to the trip.

Parental Consent

With few exceptions, a divorced parent cannot leave the United States with her child unless she first obtains permission from the child's other parent. This is true even if the parent making the trip is the custodial parent. According to a 2007 report by CNN, roughly 800,000 children are reported missing each year -- and about one-fourth of these abductions are committed by family members. While there is no way to prevent kidnappings altogether, requiring an individual to obtain permission from the child's other parent before traveling abroad makes kidnapping the child more difficult.

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Contiguous Territory

You and your child must both have a passport before you can travel to another country by air. If you are traveling to contiguous territory, such as Mexico or Canada, you must prove your child's citizenship by providing either your child's original birth certificate or a certified copy. You must also provide a written statement, signed by your former spouse, stating that your child has permission to leave the country.

Passport

If you plan to travel to non-contiguous territory with your child, you and your child must both have a passport. The U.S. Department of State notes that minors under age 16 must have permission from both parents to obtain a passport. You must apply for a minor's passport in person. Your former spouse can either go with you to fill out the passport application, or provide you with a written, signed and notarized statement giving the U.S. Department of State permission to issue your child a passport.

Sole Custody

A parent with sole custody does have the legal right to make decisions about his child without seeking input from the child's other parent. This includes the right to apply for a passport for his child and leave the country. You must prove that you have sole custody by providing the U.S. Department of state with a copy of the court-ordered custody arrangement before your child can obtain a passport. If you are traveling to contiguous territory, you must bring a copy of the court's decision with you when you cross the border.

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Can Divorced Mothers Take Their Children Out of the Country?

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The Child Custody Laws Relating to Traveling to Another State With Written Consent

Adults are accustomed to traveling when and where they want. If you share custody of your child with the other parent, however, you may need his permission to travel out of state with your child. Taking your child across state lines in violation of a custody order could expose you to contempt of court charges and even charges of parental kidnapping.

State of Florida Custody Laws for Vacations

For divorcing parents, summer vacations can present a particular challenge since child custody is often a hot topic in the divorce. In Florida, parents can generally take their children on vacation during the time they already have physical custody or visitation rights. But you can design your visitation, or time-sharing, schedule to directly address vacations through temporary orders before your divorce or through permanent orders incorporated into your final divorce decree and effective after your divorce.

Can Child Support Suspend Passports?

Following a divorce or failed relationship that produced a child, support is often ordered by the court. The noncustodial parent is required to contribute to the financial support for the child by making payments to the parent with custody. The United States Child Support Enforcement Program is a partnership between the federal, state, local and tribal governments that was created to make it easier for the difference government bodies to enforce child support payments. CSE uses several methods to force delinquent parents to make payments, including revoking your passport.

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