Dear Readers:

One of the most difficult aspects of my practice has been listening to clients tell me, while they are in the throws and woes of separating and divorcing, that their spouse WOULD NEVER:

  • Empty their bank account(s).
  • Empty the joint safety deposit box.
  • Use the children.
  • Max out the credit card(s)/lines of credit/mortgage.
  • Cut off the Hydro, cellular, cable, etc.
  • Deplete the RESP account,
  • And my personal sad favourite – kidnap the kids.

I will, in an upcoming issue, write about International Kidnapping, but today let’s deal with children and their passports, because let’s face it, most kidnappings start with a parent leaving Canada. To do so now-a-days almost always requires the child to have a passport. So, if you, the parent, are unaware of the rules and regulations governing the obtention and renewal of your children’s passports, you are more susceptible to the kidnapping phenomenon than you might think. So what are the basics? (This is for everyone, not only those in a family law problematic.)

1. If parent are still together:

For your child’s 1st passport “one” parent must present, in person, to the Passport’s office, the following original documents:

a. Both parents’ valid Government issued IDs with signatures.
b. The child’s birth certificate with parents’ information.
c. The child’s valid passport, if applicable, of other nationality.
d. The child’s proof of Canadian Citizenship (b. or Citizenship card)

There are additional conditions if the child does not have proof of citizenship, or if the child is applying from aboard, and additional forms. You should consult the Passport Canada website in this regard ( and/or These passports are valid, unlike for adults, for 5 years only.

If you are not the parent who is going to the Passport Office, you should nevertheless keep a copy of all the documents being submitted, including the duly completed Child General Passport Application form, for children 16 years and under, just in case.

2. If the Parents are separated divorced:

Parents cannot simply travel with their children, legally, without the consent of the other parent, or a Court order.

Each parent has the right to know where their child is at all times. This means being informed of the flight/train/bus schedules, all hotels or other addresses where the child is staying, a contact number [that is answered!] and the dates of travel and return. Just because one parent has custody does not entitle them to remove the child from the jurisdiction without the other parent’s consent or Court order.

So in order to avoid these problems, the travelling parent must make sure to advise the other parent, as soon as possible, that a trip is being planned. Note that the day before departure is not sufficient and could lead to costly problems otherwise avoidable. If the trip is above board, the notice should be as well. There are models for travel consent forms, and any such consent must be in writing and duly signed by the non-custodial parent.

In order to obtain or renew a child’s passport, once the parents are no longer together, originals of all relevant Court orders and/or the written Travel [mobility] Consent form the non-custodial parent must be provided, along with signature I.D., to verify the non custodial parent’s signature. WARNING: Only the parent with sole custody may apply for the child’s passport.

Therefore, all non-custodial parents should ensure the following:

Include in any consent for Court about the child, that the custodial parent must forward to you a copy of any passport application being submitted at least 15 days before filing.

When no consent has been possible either because the custodial parent refuses to supply trip details or because the non custodian refuses to sign a travel consent, request a Court order to travel or to be informed of any passport application for your child, at least 15 days beforehand, and for a copy to be sent to you.

If you become aware that a passport is being applied for, without your consent, immediately contact your attorney and send a letter to Passport Canada requesting to be contacted in the event such an application is filed, and/or that you do not consent to the emission and are intending on seeking Court intervention.

If you do go to Court either to stop a passport application or a trip, be sure Passport Canada is “mise-en-cause” by your attorney in your proceedings.

3. Where Joint Custody Exists:

Where joint custody exists, either parent may apply for the child’s passport, but the same warning as above applies since Passport Canada’s current child passport application form only states that “the other parent may be contacted”.

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