Passports and Parental Abduction

Some times parents are afraid that the other parent is going to leave the country with the minor child.  What are the options if this fear exists?

If the child already has a passport, and it is in your possession, keep it in a safe or safety deposit box at the bank. Without the passport, your child cannot leave the country.

If your child does not have a passport, but you are worried your ex will be able to get a passport issued without your signature, sign up the with Department of State’s Children’s Passport Issuance Alert System.  This system alerts you when a passport is applied for in your child’s name.

If you are involved in a divorce or custody action and are nervous that your ex may leave the country with the child, in many states you can file a writ of ne exeat.  This writ prohibits the other party from leaving the jurisdiction with the child until further order of the Court.

Additionally, when your attorney is drafting a custody agreement or settlement agreement, you can include the language that neither parent can leave the country without the consent of the other parent or court approval.

It’s important to be vigilant if you believe there is any risk of abduction.  Make sure you have current contact information of the other parent’s relatives, friends, and business associates.  If possible, it helps to have the other’s parents passport number (or a copy of the passport), driver’s license number, and social security number.  Teach your children how to use the phone and to call you if anything unusual happens.

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