Traveling with Children during a Divorce Proceeding, Paternity Proceeding, or When Custody Orders are in Effect

It’s almost the holiday season again and many parents want to travel with their minor children outside the state or even outside the country.  However, parents going through a divorce, a paternity action, or who are subject to custody orders are not as free to travel with their minor children as others.  There are many hurdles to be aware of so that a smooth travel schedule can be assured.

In California, divorcing parents and parties to paternity proceedings are subject to restraining orders preventing them from traveling with the children outside the state of California without written consent from the other parent. If such consent cannot be obtained, the traveling parent will need to file an application with the court and request an order. The following are some important notes regarding travel outside the United States:

  • A parent who owes $2,500 or more in child support payments (i.e., child support arrears) cannot obtain a passport.
  • All minors regardless of age, including newborns and infants, must possess a passport if traveling by air.
  • 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.
  • Children over the age of 16 may execute their own passport application but court orders may still limit such travel and you may still have to obtain parental consent.
  • If you fear that your minor children may be or has been abducted, you may be able to place them on The Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program.  If a U.S. passport application is submitted for a minor child in this program, it can alert the parent(s) and can even be used to alert foreign embassies and passport agencies of the unauthorized issuance of a passport.

While there are hurdles to traveling with children, such travels do not have to be treacherous if planned well in advance.