If you have joint custody of a child who is under the age of 16 and you
need to obtain an initial passport for the child, normally both parents
would cooperate with the passport application. The application must be
submitted in person at a passport agency or authorized passport application
acceptance facility with the child being present. Both parents should
appear with the child. If both parents cannot be present, the non-appearing
parent may submit a Statement of Consent form, along with a photocopy
of the non-appearing parent's driver's license or passport.
If a parent has sole custody then consent of the other parent is not required. All that is needed is proof of the following:
- Court order granting sole legal custody to the applying parent (unless the child’s travel is restricted by that order);
- Judicial declaration of incompetence of the non-applying parent; or
- Death certificate of the non-applying parent.
If a parent though has joint custody and the other parent refuses to cooperate
with the passport application process, fortunately the applying parent
can seek relief from the court to obtain the passport.
The Supreme Court or the Family Court, pursuant to the Code of Federal Regulations, has specific authority to issue an Order that the applying parent may solely obtain a passport without the non-cooperating joint custodial parent's consent.
As such, if a joint custodial parent wishes to travel abroad with the minor child and the other parent refuses to cooperate as part of a custody power struggle, the Courts can intervene and provide the necessary relief.