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Having an active lifestyle with your children after a divorce is an important step to creating a new life for your family after a difficult time. Whether you’re traveling for vacation or because little Timmy or Tina has a sports tournament, it’s important to know your rights and responsibilities after a divorce in Washington. Often, the most important step in this process is communication. If your ex-partner has legal custody rights to your child, starting a dialogue early on about travel options is important to keep everyone on the same page and to ensure there are no improper legal boundaries crossed.
Whenever you have children under eighteen years-old during a divorce, you and your spouse will be required to draft a parenting plan. This document is an agreement on many of the basics of child-rearing from decision-making to holiday visitation schedules. Many parenting plans will also have clauses dealing with travel especially if travel is anticipated. The first step towards proper travel plans after a divorce is to check the parenting plan. Failing to follow the parenting plan may lead to court involvement and sanctions.
International travel is a more complicated process. Federal law typically requires that both parents consent to the issuance of a passport in the United States for children under 16-years old. This step can be accomplished by appearing in person with your ex-spouse or by providing a notarized letter providing consent. Additional information about passports for children can be found here: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/need-passport/under-16.html.
Once you have the passport, it’s important to bring copies of additional documentation with you to ensure there are no hiccups along the way. Copies of a parental consent to travel, divorce decree, parenting plan, and birth certificate should be carried to protect you and your kids while abroad.
If you believe your ex-spouse is travelling with your child internationally without your consent – or if you fear that your ex-spouse may abduct your child out of the country – you can register the child with the Department of State’s Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program, which is a safeguard against deceptive passport practices involving children. Alerting the authorities when there are additional considerations can help keep your children safe and in the country.
If you have additional questions about travelling with your children during or after a divorce, you should always contact a qualified family law attorney. The experienced litigators at Magnuson Lowell PS offer a complimentary telephone consultation to answer general family law questions and can provide you basic background to ensure you understand your rights and responsibilities. Call Magnuson Lowell PS today at (425)885-7500 for a free consultation.