Before we get into this, let’s determine if you “need” to be here. We mommas already don’t have much free time so if we can be efficient in getting you information you actually NEED then that’s exactly what we want to do. Let’s start with disqualifiers:
- Are you on the only person listed on your child’s birth certificate?
- Does your divorce decree have any verbiage that indicates you have the right to apply for and maintain a passport for the child?
If the answer is yes, to either of the above statements, no need to read this blog post. You are good to go and don’t need anything additional, just head on over the How To Obtain A Passport for A Minor.
The Wandering Moms Facebook Group is made up of all types of families, but single mothers definitely make up the majority of the group. Truth is, this situation doesn’t just apply to single mothers, it may also apply to moms who have re-married and are bringing step-children into their families or inheriting them through marriage.
In either case, if you are planning to obtain a passport for a minor, both parents who appear on the birth certificate are required to complete the passport application form and appear in person to apply for the passport. If that’s not possible for you, all is not lost, there are a few options for you to pursue obtaining a passport for your little ones.
The Other Parent Is Deceased
There is a place to note this on the Passport Application Form, you will need to provide a copy of the death certificate with the passport application.
The Other Parent is Unable To Appear in Person
Perhaps your husband is away on business or perhaps you are a single parent and the other parent lives out of state. If the other parent is unable to appear in person for whatever reason (and neither of the above exceptions apply to you), the other parent will need to complete a form granting permission to apply for the passport.
Form DS3053 must be completed.
It is important to note:
- The form MUST be notarized
- You MUST include a front and back copy of the other parent’s ID
You Are Unable to Locate the Other Parent
If you are unable to locate the other parent, you must submit a form detailing exigent family circumstances.
You can use form DS5525
The Other Parent Refuses to Sign the Passport Application
In some cases, the other parent just refuses to sign the application. There are a number of reasons this happens, it could be that the relationship between you and the other parent is contentious, it could be this is the only sense of control the other parent feels they have, it could be the other parent is afraid that you will “take their child out of the country and never return”, there are so many reasons the other parent often refuses to sign the passport application.
We know this situation is extremely delicate and beyond frustrating for the parent attempting to travel with their child and not receiving any cooperation from the other parent. It’s one of the biggest complaints we see in the Wandering Moms Facebook Group. We have a few suggestions for how to address this, starting with attempting to be collaborative and diplomatic and if those options don’t work, going to bigger extremes and seeking legal assistance.
Option 1 – Share details and safety precautions with the other parent
Sometimes the other parent is just uncomfortable with the situation and there is nothing wrong with you acknowledging that discomfort and providing them with additional details to help them become more comfortable. Here are a few things you can do to ease their concerns:
- Show them where you’ll be staying
- Provide them with your itinerary
- Show them that you have signed up for the STEP program
- Come up with a check-in schedule
- You’ll check in before the flight takes off and lands
- You’ll have the child contact them at a certain time every day of the trip to check-in
- Give them the information for the US Embassy in the city you’re visiting
You may not feel like you should have to do all of this, but keep in mind, you are not the child’s only parent. What’s more is you’re the one asking someone else for something, regardless of how you feel about that person or your right to what you’re asking, it’s just good negotiation tactics to give something to get something. Giving the other parent peace of mind in order to get them to give you permission to take their child to another country seems worth it.
Option 2 – Have the child talk to the other parent
Often adults can only see their personal reasons for their actions and are blind to how those actions the child. If option 1 doesn’t work, consider having the child talk to their other parent about why they are excited about the trip, what they plan to do on the trip, and some of the things they are most looking forward to.
Option 3 – Seek mediation
It may be wise to bring in a third party to help. Note, mediation is not free but the benefit of it is that it’s a bit more formal but not as formal or as divisive as going to court.
There are a number of websites where you can find mediators in your area:
- American Arbitration Association
- Your local state court website
- Google “Family Mediator <your state>”
The challenge may be getting the other parent to agree to mediation.
Option 4 – Take the matter to court
Sometimes it comes to this. Note that this process can be long (six months or more) and it can be quite costly if you choose to hire a lawyer, which is why we recommended other options first. This may look a number of ways:
- Obtaining a court order forcing the other parent to sign the passport application
- Obtaining a court order which has a judge granting you permission to obtain and maintain a passport for the minor(s)
- Obtaining sole custody of the child(ren)
We must say that we are not attorneys, not even close. One of us is a Project Manager, the other is a retired School Educator. Additionally, the rules and requirements will vary by the state you live in and the state the other parent lives in. We’re providing some high level information here to get you started but your best bet is to speak with an attorney in your state. If this is the route you are considering, at the very least you should get a consultation with a family attorney.
Here are a few places you can find attorneys in your area:
Check out this blog post from another Wandering Mom who runs a blog called The Spring Break Family on her experience with getting her daughter’s passport renewed when her biological father refused to sign the paperwork.
- How To Obtain Passport for Minors
- Consent to Travel With A Minor
- HACK: You Can Take Your Own Passport Photo
- Do THIS Before You Plan An International Trip With Your Family