Child Custody Issues When Traveling Overseas
As an affluent and diverse area of the country, many divorced parents in Northern Virginia may wish to take their children overseas on vacation or to visit family. While one parent with joint custody may have every intent of returning with the child stateside, the other may not be trusting and attempt to block travel.
To that end, there are constant requirements for children under a certain age to acquire a passport for international travel. Whether divorced parents wish to cooperate in or restrain overseas travel, both parties should understand the issues to ensure their best interests are obtainable.
Can family court judges block overseas travel with my children?
Virginia family law judges have a wide range of discretion when it comes to allowing or restricting overseas travel. Depending on the circumstances, judges may allow travel but with certain limitations to satisfy the concerns of parents and the child’s well being.
Judges have this power because state law allows them to set visitation and custody rights for each parent. Parents with concerns about their child traveling overseas with the other parent may ask for and be granted restrictions on where, when, and how often their child may travel.
Courts may block parents from taking their children overseas with if that party is deemed to be a flight risk. Situations which may constitute a flight include:
- One parent having limited ties to the United States;
- Parent or child has dual citizenship; or
- Traveling to country which is not a signatory to the Hague Convention.
Do I need my ex-spouse’s permission to obtain a passport for my child?
Parents with joint custody of minor children under the age of 16 will need to meet several requirements to acquire a passport. Federal law requires applicants under the age of 16 years old to:
- Be U.S. nationals;
- Apply for their passport in person; and
- Have consent of both parents.
Divorced parents with shared custody have certain legal rights to either compel the other to sign off on a passport application or block travel. Judges may order one parent to obtain a passport for his or her child or even order an existing passport be surrendered to the court.
In the event one parent may wish to travel overseas and custody grounds have not been set by the courts, parents concerned about the travel should file notice with the U.S. State Department’s Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP). Under the program, parents will be informed if the other attempts to apply for a passport for the child thus giving an opportunity to take action in the courts.
Leesburg Child Custody Attorneys
If you are facing child custody issues, contact the experienced Leesburg child custody attorneys of Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy, PC for a case review. Our office has the legal resources and means to investigate and litigate issues related to child custody and help protect your parental rights.
Whether you are seeking visitation, wish to or prevent relocation or travel overseas of your child, our office can help. Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy, PC serves clients throughout Fairfax County, Fauquier County, Loudoun County, and Prince William County.