The abduction and removal of a child to another country offers unique and difficult hurdles to overcome. Even if a U.S. court orders custodial rights to a parent, the U.S. court order may not be recognized or enforced in certain countries. Therefore, a parent may not be able to have his or her child returned if taken to a foreign country without permission or is allowed to go a foreign country, but the other party is refusing to return the child.
To help address these concerns, the United States State Department developed the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program (“CPIAP”). CPIAP allows parents to register their U.S. citizen minor children in the State Department’s Passport Lookout System. Under the program, if a passport application is submitted for a child who is registered in CPIAP, the Department contacts and alerts the parent or parents of the passport application. This procedure provides parents advance warning of possible plans for international travel with the child.
CPIAP does not restrict travel or place the child on a “do not fly” list, but CPIAP is designed to prevent the issuance of a new passport without the applying parent’s knowledge or consent. In addition, with a CPIAP request, a search of passport record databases can be conducted to verify past passport issuances, to look for pending passport applications, and to inform the CPIAP requester of the results. Once the child is entered into CPIAP, the child remains in the program until the age of 18 or until the parent who requested the child’s entry into the program requests in writing that the child be withdrawn from the program.
If one or both parents of the child are foreign nationals, it is important to remember that the child may have dual citizenship. The concept of dual citizenship means that a person is a citizen of two countries at the same time. Each country has its own citizenship laws, and a child may have dual citizenship by automatic operation of a country’s laws rather than by choice. If the child is or may have dual citizenship, it is recommended to contact the embassy or consulate for the foreign country to learn more about their citizenship and nationality laws, and about any resources they may have to assist in abduction prevention.
If you have any questions regarding child custody and parental rights or responsibilities, please contact an attorney at Hamblett & Kerrigan.
Kevin P. Rauseo is a former director at Hamblett & Kerrigan P.A. and has since been appointed as a Justice for the New Hampshire Circuit Court. Please feel free to contact another attorney at Hamblett & Kerrigan to discuss your legal issues.