With the winter recess upon us, many of our Long Island divorce clients have planned plan vacations with their children. For many, the winter recess time is a nice break from the stresses of work, school and your divorce. It’s a great time for you and your children to relax and let them be children, without the added stress of your divorce. This can also be a cause of concern for many clients, as their spouses are taking their children out of the country.
Preventative Measures You Can Take to Protect Your Children
#1. Stipulation of Settlement
Throughout the pendency of your Long Island Divorce, your attorney will be working on reaching a Settlement Agreement with your spouse. Such an agreement will be recorded in a Stipulation of Settlement. Contained within that document will be language regarding international travel with your children. Such language may include provisions allowing one parent to hold the passports, or the exchange of itineraries (complete with return flights) before the passports are exchanged, or, in extreme cases, banning international travel completely. While this may not seem like a big deal, it can greatly increase your peace of mind knowing where your children are while traveling internationally. It may also help you notice if something does not seem right.
As previously mentioned, while drafting your Stipulation of Settlement, your attorney should address the issue of international travel, including provisions regarding your children obtaining passports. Notwithstanding, in 2002, New York State made it mandatory for both parents to consent to the issuance of a passport to a minor child under the age of 14. If you have a reasonable severe concern that your spouse is not going to return the children, withholding your consent may be in your best interest. Alternatively, if your children already have a passport, you can ask the court to hold the passports during the pendency of your divorce if you are truly concerned about your spouse fleeing with your children.
#3. Department of State
One of the most effective preventative measures is offered by the federal government. In recognition of the very real situation in which a parent may flee the country with his or her children, the Department of State created the “Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program.” If the child is under 18 years of age, a parent may enroll the child in this program. Once your child has been successfully enrolled, the Department of State will notify you if an application for a passport has been submitted for your child. Alternatively, if your child already has a passport, upon being successfully enrolled, you will be alerted if an application to renew your child’s passport has been received by the Department of State. While they cannot tell you who submitted the application, just receiving the notification is sometimes enough to halt whatever your spouse may be planning. If you elect to enroll your child in this program, it is very important that you keep your account information up to date, as incorrect information may cause your child to be issued a passport without your knowledge.
Questions Regarding Your Child’s International Travel? Contact Us
If you have further questions regarding international travel and the obtaining of passports for your children during your divorce, please contact our Long Island Divorce and Family Law firm at 631-923-1910 to set up your complimentary consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.
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