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What Every Parent Needs to Know When Traveling with Children during a Divorce Proceeding, Paternity Proceeding, or When Custody Orders are in Effect

During the summer months when schools are on break and the weather is ideal, many parents want to travel with their minor children outside the state or country. However, parents going through a divorce or paternity action, or who are subject to custody orders, are not as free to travel with their minor children as other parents.

In California, certain family law litigants are subject to restraining orders preventing them from traveling with the children outside the state of California without written consent from the other parent. Without such consent, the traveling parent must file an application with the court and request an order. Parents who already have a judgment in place may need to give notice by a certain date and provide itinerary and other emergency contact information.

However, knowing the hurdles before reaching them will allow for smooth travels—the key to a successful trip is being prepared. For example, all minors, including newborns and infants, must possess a passport if traveling by air, but a parent who owes $2,500 or more in child support payments may not be able to obtain or renew a passport.

In order to obtain a passport for a child under the age of 16, one of the following must occur: (1) both parents and the child must appear in person to apply for the passport; or (2) the child must appear in person with the traveling parent and submit a Statement of Consent notarized by the non-traveling parent; or (3) the child and traveling parent must appear in person and document that parent’s sole authority to obtain the passport. And while children over the age of sixteen may execute their own passport applications, court orders may still limit such travel and the children may still have to obtain parental consent.

While there are potential issues with traveling across state lines or internationally with children, family vacations may still happen as planned if the details are arranged well in advance. Consult your family law attorney to determine the necessary steps you may need to take.

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