Divorce, Children, Passports – Travelling with Children After Divorce

By Dugan P. Kelley

Divorce, Children, Passports, when combined, can make for a complicated situation. Getting a Passport and travelling with children after a divorce — If you are divorced and have children, you know how frustrating it can be when you want to travel outside the United States with your children after a divorce.  Often, you are worried about your ex-spouse blocking your ability to obtain a passport and/or travel with your child.  Remember what to do when you face the predicament of Divorce, Children, Passports. Below, are the five most important things to remember and do if you want to get a passport and travel with your children outside the United States.

  1. Review your final decree or order. Remember that fine print and lengthy order/decree you signed?  You will likely have passport provisions included in that document.  It is very important that you review those provisions and requirements.  They will provide information as to the obligations and timing requirements that your ex-spouse has to follow.  Many divorce decrees and/or family Court orders will have specific deadlines for your ex-spouse to provide the existing passports to you (if they exist), or there may be a deadline for you to inform your ex-spouse that you intend to apply for passports;
  1. You will need to be present with your children when they apply for a passport. Even if your children are teenagers (13-15), you will need to be present.  Only minors older than 16 can sign their own passport application.  8 S.C §§ 1401, et seq., 22 U.S.C. §§211a, et seq., and 22 C.F.R. §§ 50-51.1);
  1. Gather the important documents needed to get a passport for your children, and remember to bring them to your appointment or visit. These documents include, original birth certificates, social security cards, and a notarized consent form from your ex-spouse (e.g. Department of State Form DS-3053).  Preparation is key.  If you are missing any of these documents, you will likely not receive a positive outcome and be turned away and have to come back.  Original and/or certified documents are also likely required, which means the old picture on your iPhone of the birth certificate will not be sufficient.  If you lost the original birth certificates, don’t worry.  You can usually order them online and pay a fee to replace;
  1. Give yourself plenty of time. It takes anywhere from 4-8 weeks to get a passport for your child.  Yes, you can do one on an emergency basis, but it costs more.  Simple planning will help you avoid frustration.  Don’t delay, you can do this!;
  1. The Court can order your ex-spouse to cooperate. Your ex-spouse may be a huge obstacle to you and just flat out refuse to cooperate.  Even if you don’t have exact language in your final divorce decree or order, you can still have the Court “order” your ex-spouse to cooperate and execute the required forms necessary so that you can get a passport for your children.

At Kelley Clarke PC, we understand that applying for a passport, negotiating with your ex-spouse, and/or forcing them to cooperate with you in applying for and receiving a passport can be confusing, challenging, and even frustrating.  We are here to help.  Whether you live in Denton, Dallas, Collin, Tarrant, or Wise Counties, please contact Kelley Clarke PC.  We will help you.