Obtaining a Passport for your Child

Many aspects of State Law do not jibe with Federal Laws.  One of these areas is related to the issuance of a Passport to a minor child.

In Georgia and most other States, the mother of a child born outside of wedlock has Sole Legal and Physical Custody Rights to the child.  That does not change in Georgia unless and until the father files a Petition to Establish Legitimacy.  Thus at Georgia Law the mother has the right to make any and all decisions regarding her child, unless the father establishes Legitimacy.

But what happens when that mother seeks to have the Federal Government issue a Passport for her child?

This is one of the disconnections between State and Federal Law. Generally speaking, Federal Law regarding Passports requires the permission of both parents.  Even if the father of the child has never been involved in the child’s life, never paid any child support or done anything for the benefit of the child. Sometimes the father, for no good reason simply refuses to consent to the Passport Application, other times the mother may not know where the father is.

In the case of a mother that knows where the father is, and that father simply refuses to agree to the issuance of a Passport, the mother will have to file an action in the Superior Court to obtain an order that directs the father to consent to the Passport, or sets out clearly that the father has no parental rights, that the mother has Sole Legal and Physical Custody and that she should be permitted to obtain a Passport without the consent of the father. Then that Court Order is attached to the application for Passport filed by the mother, and hopefully the Federal Government complies.

In the case of a mother that does not know the whereabouts of the father, the Federal Law provides a remedy. There is a form you can file in the passport application process to deal with unknown or missing parents. The applying parent must submit Form DS-5525: Statement of Exigent/Special Family Circumstances. The statement must explain in detail the non-applying parent’s or guardian’s unavailability and recent efforts made to contact the non-applying parent.

The applying parent also may be required to provide evidence (e.g., custody order, incarceration order, restraining order) to document his/her claim of exigent or special circumstances. To protect against international parental child abduction, the Passport Agency processing the application may ask for additional details if the statement is determined to be insufficient. ”

Here is a website address that addresses these issues: http://www.us-passport-service-guide.com/child-passport.html

In some Foreign Countries, a US Citizen travelling there must obtain a Visa from the Foreign County before they will be permitted to make entry. Some of these Visa requirements include a written consent from the other parent to travel there. Those countries may or may not recognize exigent circumstances and may refuse to issue the Visa. There may be little to be done about such situations.