While most parents are able to cooperate about their child traveling internationally, some parents have well-founded concerns about their ex-partner taking their child to another country. These concerns often arise in the context of highly contested divorce and child custody proceedings, in which parental abduction may be a concern if the child is allowed to travel to another country. Another potential source of concern may be the safety of the country to which the parent wants to travel with the child. Whatever the disagreement over international travel may be, if you want to travel internationally with your child, you must obtain a passport for him or her.

Under federal law, passport applications for a child under the age of 16 generally require the consent of both parents. If the parents share custody of the child, they must both consent to the passport application for the child, either by both physically appearing to apply for the child’s passport, or by one parent appearing physically with the other parent’s notarized Statement of Consent. If, however, one parent has sole legal custody of the child, he or she can obtain a passport for the child without the other parent’s consent. The parent with sole legal custody must provide a court order granting him or her sole custody of the child, along with the child’s passport application.

On the other hand, if parents share custody of the child and one parent will not consent to obtaining a passport for the child, the court may have to intervene. Each parent would have the opportunity to present evidence in support of his or her position on the issue, and, after hearing all of the evidence, a judge would make a decision about whether the child can have a passport and travel internationally. If one parent has a court order that specifically authorizes that parent to obtain a passport for the child and travel with the child internationally, consent from the other parent is not required.

Family law proceedings can vary greatly from case to case, and some cases are much more complex than others. No matter what issues arise in your family law proceedings, however, we are here to help. The lawyers at Pacific Northwest Family Law have handled countless family law cases throughout the years, as well as all other family law-related matters. Contact an experienced Washington family law attorney today so that we can explain your rights and responsibilities related to various family law matters in the state of Washington.