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Can my ex take my child out of the country?

After a divorce, especially if the divorce is between spouses from different countries, travel can become a particularly thorny issue. Your ex may wish to travel internationally with your child or children, but this is an area that you must approach with caution.

Before you authorize your ex to travel internationally with your children, be sure you understand all the potential risks and ramifications of this decision. Here is some information for you to consider to help you make the most informed choice.

Child passport issues

In order to take your child out of the country with your permission, your child must have a passport. Both parents must authorize and give their permission for the U.S. government to issue a passport to the child. If you do not give your consent, your child cannot have a U.S. passport.

If you suspect that your ex may wish to keep your child out of the country once he or she leaves, you should seriously consider whether or not to give your consent. The important thing to keep in mind is that you are not obligated to give your permission. The U.S. State Department has various mechanisms in place to notify the parent when the ex-spouse is making a passport application, especially if the court has put travel restrictions on the child in place.

Location and custody of passport

If your child already has a passport, the risk for your ex to take the child out of the country is more pronounced. If your ex has your child's passport in his or her possession and intends to take the child out of the country without your permission, this is a risk. The Hague Convention protects against international child abductions. This international treaty allows jurisdiction to return to the country where the child normally resides. It is a complex legal instrument but is crucial in cases such as this.

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Law Office of Philip J. Schipani
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