I am worried about my child’s travel outside the United States this summer. The father, who was born in India, wants to take our child to India. I think travel is a wonderful education, but the child is only six, and I have more concerns than I can write. As far as I know, the child does not have a passport and only has US citizenship.
We have joint legal custody, and I am the primary custodian in the school year. The Father has half the time in the summer. What are the rules? What can I do?
First, let me establish some of the general rules for passports of children of divorce. If parents have joint legal custody, both parents must sign the passport application, which is your situation. So, you can prevent the application by not signing. You would also have to sign the VISA application since you need a VISA to travel to India. Only in the situation of sole legal custody can one parent apply for a passport for a minor, unless of course, the other parent’s parental rights have been terminated. A child’s passport is only good for five years.
Frequently, in child custody orders judges, upon request, put provisions in the custody order for passport applications, foreign travel, and who holds the passport.
You can register your situation with the US Government at Travel.State.Gov.You have to keep your address up to date until your child is age sixteen. Then, you will be advised if anyone attempts a passport application for your child. There is a hotline also at 1-888-407-4747.
You will have to weigh the pros and cons as a parent. As you state, travel is “wonderful” and educational. It sounds probable that the child has extended family in India, and that is important. This has to be weighed against the fact that India is not a signatory to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. I do not know the Father’s work situation and connections to the US from your fact pattern. I do know it is expensive to retrieve a child from a foreign country.
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