Can I Travel Abroad with My Minor?

by | Nov 14, 2023 | Child Custody & Visitation, Divorce, Move-Away

It’s difficult enough to deal with concerns related to interstate travel amid minor custody orders and disputes and it’s unfortunately even more difficult to deal with issues related to travel to foreign nations in that context as well due to problems which may arise in either obtaining a passport and/or entering a country with your minor without the other parent present.

Passport applications for minors are subject to specific requirements that differ from those for adults. Whether it’s for international travel, family vacations, or emergencies, having a valid passport for your child is a necessity.

The application process involves consent from both parents or legal guardians, adding a layer of complexity in situations where there might be disagreements or custody disputes.

In California, for example, in order to obtain a passport where there has been a registered dissolution filing or paternity suit, it will be necessary for both parents or the applicable legal guardians to sign off on obtaining a passport or renewal.

This rule applies even if one parent has sole custody. If one parent is uncooperative or there are disputes over the child’s travel plans, the matter may need to be resolved through the family court system.

Why A Family Law Attorney’s Assistance May Be Useful:

There are various ways that an attorney specialized in California family law matters may be useful in assisting families with various legal aspects, including passport issues for minor children. Here’s how we can help:

  1. Legal Guidance: An experienced family law attorney can provide you with a clear understanding of the legal requirements and processes involved in obtaining a passport for your child.
  2. Negotiation and Mediation: In cases where there are disagreements between parents, we can help facilitate negotiations and mediations to reach an agreement on travel plans and passport applications.
  3. Court Representation: If disputes escalate, having an experience California family law attorney prepared to represent you in family court, advocating for your child’s best interests and ensuring that the necessary legal steps are taken is your best resource. This often substantially involves arguing the pros and cons of either obtaining an order for the issuance of a passport and cooperation by the other party in that pursuit and/or opposing such a request and explaining the Court why it is in the child’s best interests that such a request be denied.
  4. Modification of Custody Orders: If there are existing custody orders in place, and circumstances change, we can assist in seeking modifications to accommodate travel plans and passport applications. Often, custody orders may be issued with a prohibition on certain travel, or the issuance of certain documentation related to travel (e.g., a passport), so if any changes are necessary to affect a particular goal, an experience family law attorney is the best resource to attempt to obtain these requested modifications or changes to any existing orders that are presently in place.


Tips to Avoid and/or Mitigate Complications:

To avoid unnecessary complications, we recommend the following tips for parents dealing with passport matters:

  1. Communication: Keep open lines of communication with the other parent to discuss and agree on travel plans well in advance. This is often the most tedious but most important part of this process. When a parent is hit by an expected travel plan or request by the opposite parent, this can often result in apprehension or a “shutting down” of that parent’s willingness to facilitate this process. This is one of the reasons that advance notice and clear communications on travel plans and the intent therefore are highly recommended and often lead to an avoidance of negative scenarios in this regard.
  2. Plan Ahead: Passport applications can take time to process. Plan ahead and initiate the process early to avoid last-minute stress.
  3. Legal Consultation: If you anticipate issues or if disagreements arise, seek legal consultation promptly to understand your rights and responsibilities.


We understand the importance of addressing passport issues for minor children with sensitivity and efficiency. An experienced California family law attorney will be best positioned here to guide you through the legal intricacies, ensuring that your child’s best interests are prioritized. If you find yourself facing challenges regarding passports for your minor children, contact us for a consultation to discuss your unique situation and explore the best course of action for your family.