Even if Punxsutawney Phil had not seen his shadow, those of us in the Midwest and other snowy parts of the country begin to yearn for warm vacations this time of year. With spring break fast approaching, whether you plan to travel with or without minor children, following are two things you might consider in planning your vacation:
Two-Parent Consent Law: Obtaining a Passport for a Child
If you want to travel out of the country with your minor child, give yourself plenty of time to obtain the child’s passport. As described in the U.S. Passport Application (Form DS-11), federal law requires both parents appear in presenting the application for a child under the age of sixteen. The Two- Parent Consent Law was implemented in 2001, and amended in 2008.
If only one parent appears in person, the non-appearing parent must send a written, notarized consent to the application for the child’s passport. The consent cannot be more than three months old and must include the front and back of the second parent’s driver’s license. In the alternative, a Court Order authorizing only one parent to apply for the child’s license will suffice. For this reason, divorcing parents or parents with children born out of wedlock should consider the fact that one or both parents may at some point want to take the child(ren) on vacation internationally. If a divorce decree or child custody order does not address the situation and the second parent doesn’t agree to the issuance of the child’s passport, a motion to the Court may be necessary. Another option is utilizing Form DS-5525 to explain the second parent’s unavailability. However, this form should only be used in unique circumstances, as the form is reviewed on a case-by-case basis and subject to close scrutiny.
Grandparents may not apply for a minor grandchild’s passport without either legal guardianship papers or written authority from the child’s parents which complies with the Two-Parent Consent Law.
Power of Attorney for a Minor
If you are leaving children at home while you vacation, it is a good practice to also leave at home a signed and notarized Power of Attorney for a Minor. The document identifies your children and authorizes their temporary caregivers (e.g. family member; friend; neighbor; babysitter) to make certain decisions on behalf of the minor children if you are unavailable. The power of attorney can specify an end date (e.g. when you will return from vacation), as well as provide what powers and limitations upon those powers should apply in your absence. The Power of Attorney is particularly useful if your child needs medical attention; if the school or educational providers need consents for the child to partake in school trips or activities; and any other consent or decision which a parent may otherwise need to make for a child.
The Power of Attorney for a Minor is generally simple to prepare, but give your legal counsel enough notice so the document can be prepared and a time for notarization can be scheduled. Admittedly, when my husband and I travel we generally sign our Power of Attorney for our children a few days prior; but as I tell my children, I also tell parents: “Do as I say and not as I do!” In other words, don’t procrastinate. Get your affairs in order well in advance so you can enjoy yourself and not feel rushed preparing for your relax-cation.
The information contained above is for informational purposes only, and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel. You should not act or rely upon this information.
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