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Travel Abroad of 16 Year Old of Divorced Parents

by Gayle
(Seattle, King County USA)

Question: The mother is the designated custodian of a 16-year-old. Can the 16-year-old get a passport without the father's permission? Can the 16-year-old travel abroad without the father's permission?


All reside in Washington State. The parenting plan says of travel:

"Each parent shall be permitted to travel with the child that is in their primary care within the United States and to Canada without the consent of the other parent. Neither child shall travel to Pakistan so long as the U. S. Department of State has (current) travel warnings for United State Citizens warning against non-essential travel to Pakistan. The parent wishing to travel to Pakistan must also have the written permission of the other parent."

Answer: I will attempt to answer your questions in their order.

Can the 16-year-old get a passport without the father's permission?

If the mother has sole legal custody, then the father's permission in not necessary. If the parents have shared custody, then consent may be necessary.

Notarized parental consent is required from the non-applying parent for minors age 15 and younger. Minors ages 16 and 17 "may be requested to provide written parental consent for a child age 16 or 17 if it is not implied on the application".

The agent who attends to the minor at the time he or she submits the passport application will inform him or her as to whether there is a need to submit a parental consent form or not.

Can the 16-year-old travel abroad without the father's permission?

According to the parenting plan above, the only destination that the minor can travel outside the United States without consent of the non-primary care parent is Canada. This implies that travel to any other destination outside the U.S. must have the consent of the non-primary care parent.

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