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Posts from the ‘Passports’ Category

Kids and Travel – Interactive On-line Form for Letter of Consent

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Kids and Travel – Interactive On-line Form for Letter of Consent

In past Blogs we have discussed the various issues and requirements around children’s Passports,  and the application process for obtaining them. Obtaining a Passport for a child becomes particularly important in situations of separation and divorce, since if one parent wants to travel with the child, then the other parent must usually agree to (or at least condone) the intended plans.

The Government of Canada strongly recommends that even after a valid Passport has been issued, any time there are plans made by one parent for a child to travel outside Canada, whether accompanied by that parent, alone, or with another person (e.g. a relative or family friend or in a group), a Letter of Consent should be obtained from the other parent. For these purposes, a “child” is anyone under the age of majority.

While strictly speaking it is not mandatory, the Letter of Consent serves as evidence that the child has the consent of both parents to travel. It is signed primarily by the individual(s) with the legal right to make major decisions for the child (i.e. the custodial parent or guardian); however, even if it is a parent with sole custody who is travelling with the child, to be on the safe side it is recommended that Letter of Consent be filled out by any parent or other individual with access rights.

The Letter of Consent can be presented upon demand by immigration authorities when entering or leaving a foreign country, or by Canadian immigration officials upon the child’s return. While having a Letter of Consent handy does not guarantee that there will be no difficulties crossing a border, it will likely make the process much faster and easier.
Although there is no standard form, and no official guidelines for its contents, the federal government website now has a interactive on-line form that can be modified and filled out to fit each situation. It is always recommended that the Letter be completed with as much detail as possible.

Finally, the Government of Canada has a useful Frequently Asked Questions page , which sets out the answers to questions arising in various travel scenarios.

At Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders. For more information, visit our main site.

Top 3 things you should know about passports for children – video

 

 

Wednesday’s Video Clip: Top 3 things you should know about passports for children

Passport Canada has a number of rules pertaining to passports, which included specific provisions applicable to children anyone aged 3 to 16 and infants anyone under the age of 3. Specifically:

• All Canadians entering the U.S. by air — including children whether accompanied by a parent or not — must have a valid Canadian passport.

• As with passports for adults, any child or infant who is a Canadian citizen is eligible to apply; once issued, the passport is good for five years for children, and three years for infants.

• Children need their own passports to travel abroad (i.e. non-U.S. destinations), even if accompanied by a parent.

• Children who are not travelling with both parents should carry a “Letter of Consent” which states that both parents agree to the child travelling. (Although this is not a strict legal requirement, it serves to facilitate a child’s entry into another country).

Wednesday’s Video Clip: Top 3 things you should know about passports for children

 

Top 3 things you should know about passports for children

This video reviews the top three things Canadians should to know passports for children, including the fact that children who travel need a Canadian passport.

Passport Canada has a number of rules pertaining to passports, which included specific provisions applicable to children anyone aged 3 to 16 and infants anyone under the age of 3. Specifically:

• All Canadians entering the U.S. by air – including children whether accompanied by a parent or not – must have a valid Canadian passport.

• As with passports for adults, any child or infant who is a Canadian citizen is eligible to apply; once issued, the passport is good for five years for children, and three years for infants.

• Children need their own passports to travel abroad (i.e. non-U.S. destinations), even if accompanied by a parent.

• Children who are not travelling with both parents should carry a “Letter of Consent” which states that both parents agree to the child travelling. (Although this is not a strict legal requirement, it serves to facilitate a child’s entry into another country).

We hope you have found this video helpful. If you require further information about please give us a call or visit our website at www.russellalexander.com or For further information, visit the Passport Canada website at: http://www.ppt.gc.ca/index.aspx

Top 10 Familyllb’s Blogs of 2012

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Top 10 Familyllb’s Blogs of 2012

Well it has been another busy year for us as our blog has been viewed over 150, 000 times and we have received over 500 comments.  Thank you to everyone for your continued comments and support.

So in keeping with the year in review theme, here are our Top 10 Blog posting for 2012.

Number 10: New Proof of Parentage Requirements When Travelling with Children

This Blog examined why it’s important for parents to know that effective December 1, 2011, there are new proof-of-parentage requires for applications relating to travel by a child. These requirements are aimed at protecting Canadian children against child abduction, and designed to further enhance the security of the Canadian passport system.

New “proof of parentage” documentation required.

After December 1, 2011, for standard passport applications respecting children under the age of 16, the change involves a new requirement:  every application must be accompanied by “proof of parentage” documentation.

Number 9: Top Five Lottery Cases in Family Law

Lottery wins are a once-in-the-lifetime stroke of good fortune.   (At the least, they certainly happen less frequently than anyone hopes).  But in the case of married or common-law couples who buy the winning ticket, the joy of having a monetary windfall can quickly become tainted if they later separate or divorce, because issues often arises as to who gets the money, or how it is to be split.

So, in the unlikely event that these become relevant to our readers, this Blog reviewed the top five interesting lottery cases from across Canada.

Number 8: Ontario’s Bill 133 & Regulation for Pension Division to Commence January 2012

This Blog reviewed Ontario’s Attorney General Chris Bentley report that starting January 1, 2012, the pension division and valuation provisions in the Family Statute Law Amendment Act, 2009 will come into force. The changes are designed to make the family justice system more affordable, faster, simpler and less confrontational

Number 7: Top 5 Web Resources for Kids of Divorcing Parents

One of the most regrettable and usually unavoidable aspects of separation and divorce is the impact it can have on the children of the marriage. Even the most amicable separation-and-divorce scenarios are rife with challenges for all the parties, not the least of which are endured by the children who are the most emotionally ill-equipped to handle them. Parents may have difficulty knowing how best to support and accommodate their children’s needs during the difficult transitional period that inevitably accompanies the change in family lifestyle.

This Blog provided a list of the “Top 5” websites aimed at helping children through this phase.

Number 6: Wife Plans to Sue Ontario Family Responsibility Office for Husband’s Suicide

In the past few years, the government of Ontario implemented legislative amendments allowing drivers’ cars to be impounded and / or their licenses to be suspended in cases where they have failed to pay child support. This Blog took a look at how, according to a London, Ontario woman, this impact has directly caused the suicide of her common-law husband.

Number 5: 5 Ways to Make Sure Your Separation Agreement is Valid

Separation agreements can be a useful means by which separating spouses can take first steps toward unwinding their financial and family-related affairs by way of a mutual agreement. This Blog provided aa list of the top five ways to ensure that a separation agreement is valid and enforceable in Ontario.

Number 4: Top 5 Things to Know About the Canada Child Tax Benefit

 Soon it will be time to start thinking about individual income taxes, and all of the various components that go into providing the federal government with a financial “snapshot” for the past year.

For separated or divorcing spouses with children, one of those components is the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB).

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) administers the CCTB, which is a monthly, tax-free benefit received on behalf of a child under the age of 18. Its purpose is to assist families with child-raising costs, and its value depends on family income, among other things.

This Blog examined 5 things to keep in mind about the CCTB.

Number 3: Top 10 Things to Know About Children and Passports

In this Blog we examined the relatively recent changes to children and the need to travel with passports.

Since June 1, 2009 all Canadians, including children travelling to the U.S., must present a document that is compliant with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). For entry into the U.S., this includes a Canadian passport or a NEXUS card when available.

Number 2: Top 5 Questions About Adultery and Divorce in Ontario

It seems that celebrity gossip tabloids will never have a shortage of topics to cover, as long as there are stories about extramarital affairs by successful, high-profile celebrities. Most recently, it has been alleged that Arnold Schwartzenegger fathered a child with the housekeeper employed in the home he shared with his wife of 25 years; prior to that, Tiger Woods has admitted to having sexual trysts with at least 14 women outside of his relatively short marriage.

In this blog we examine the role of adultery and Divorce in Ontario.

Number 1: 10 Things You Should Know About Child Support

This continues to be a very popular post and is evidence of the ongoing need that parents have to for information about child support.  This blog examines how all dependent children have a legal right to be financially supported by their parents. When parents live together with their children, they support the children together. Parents who do not live together often have an arrangement in which a child lives most of the time with one parent. That parent is said to have custody of the child. This arrangement can be written in a separation agreement or court order (sometimes called legal custody), or may occur without a written agreement or court order (sometimes called “de facto” custody). Either way, the parent with custody has the main responsibility for the day-to-day care of the child and has most of the ordinary expenses of raising the child. The other parent should help with those expenses by paying money to the parent with custody. This is called child support.

There you have it.  Our Top 10 Blogs for 2012.  Thank you  again to everyone who have visited our Blog and all your continued comments and support.

Children Denied Overseas Trip to Visit Ailing Grandmother; Court Suggests Using Skype Instead

Children Denied Overseas Trip to Visit Ailing Grandmother; Court Suggests Using Skype Instead

In Hamid v. Hamid, the primary issue for the court was whether the mother of the three children of the marriage (who were aged 11, 7, and 6) should be allowed to travel with her to Pakistan to visit their ailing grandmother.  The father, from whom the mother had been separated for two years, adamantly opposed the trip, partly on the basis that Pakistan is too dangerous for the children.

The mother’s evidence was that although the maternal grandmother was not dying, she was clearly ill. Despite being only 69, she had cancer, diabetes, and a cardiac condition.  The grandmother had applied to the Canadian government for a visitor’s visa in 2010, but had been denied on the basis that she was a risk to remain in Canada.    As such, the mother pointed out that the only way the children could visit with their grandmother – whom they had not seen since 2003 – was for them to travel to Pakistan.  In light of her poor health, the planned may be the only opportunity for the children to spend time with her before she dies.

The father, on the other hand, claimed that the chaotic political and social situation in Pakistan made it too dangerous, and that were the children to travel there, they would be exposed to an unwarranted risk of harm.  (He also claimed that the mother was a flight risk, and since Pakistan is not a signatory to the Hague convention, he would have no legal or court-ordered recourse if she decided to remain there.   However, in prior decisions the court has held that the mere fact that a parent applies to travel to a country that is not a signatory to the Hague Convention does not mean that the application should be denied unless there is evidence that the children might possibly be abducted.  There was no such evidence in this case.)

The court examined the father’s safety-based objections to the mother’s travel plans to Pakistan.   He had produced documentation about the current political and social climate in that country, including a recent 10-page travel advisory report from the Canadian government that started:  “OFFICIAL WARNING: Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada advises against non-essential travel to Pakistan.”  The report described the current security situation as being “fragile” and “unpredictable”, and indicate that the threat of terrorism remained “very high,” and that they had taken place in “public areas, such as hotels, markets, transportation hubs, Western-style fast food outlets, restaurants, and religious sites, including places frequented by foreigners.  Only the best hotels, with stringent security, including metal detectors, should be used; however, no location should be considered free of risks.”

 The report also discussed other dangers such as kidnapping, armed robbery, random shootings, and armed car-jackings. .

To counter these reports, the mother filed evidence that the grandmother in Pakistan had not complained about any of the issues raised by the father, and that she had food, water, electricity, and medical care.   If allowed to go, the mother also committed to adhering to the travel advisories, to avoiding any “hot spots” while in the country, and to returning to Canada immediately if she felt the children were in danger.

While accepting that the mother was sincere and genuine in her desire not to place the children in harm’s way, the court stated:

“However, danger – whether it emanates from crime, terrorist attacks or other sources, by its very nature makes victims of similarly like-minded persons, specifically, persons who would not knowingly place themselves in threatening situations.  It is a truism that no one walks along a street knowing that a terrorist bomb is about to explode nearby; no one drives a car knowing it is about to be carjacked; no one would go to any location knowing in advance, they might be kidnapped, assaulted or terrorised in that location.  Yet people – ultimately victims – do these things unwittingly, and these terrible events do occur.”

While conceding that there was undoubtedly a benefit to allowing the children to see their grandmother – and while admitting that the children may feel let down by the court’s decision – the court emphasized that the potential benefits had to be balanced against the risk of harm to the children.  In this case, the benefits simply did not outweigh the risk.  The mother’s motion was dismissed, although the court indicated that if the climate in Pakistan were to change, the children may eventually be able to travel there to visit.  The court also suggested that in this technologically advanced world, the children could have face-to-face “visits” with the grandmother by way of Skype or footage on DVDs.

For the full-text of the decision, see:

Hamid v. Mahmood, 2012 ONCJ 474  http://canlii.ca/t/fs4nh

At Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders.  For more information, visit us at  www.RussellAlexander.com.

New Proof of Parentage Requirements When Travelling with Children

New Proof of Parentage Requirements When Travelling with Children

In my previous blog Top Five Things You Should Know About Passports for Children http://bit.ly/s8Przn  I wrote about some of the basics relating to Canadian passports for children.

In a related vein, it’s important for parents to know that effective December 1, 2011, there are new proof-of-parentage requires for applications relating to travel by a child. These requirements are aimed at protecting Canadian children against child abduction, and designed to further enhance the security of the Canadian passport system.

New “proof of parentage” documentation required

After December 1, 2011, for standard passport applications respecting children under the age of 16, the change involves a new requirement:  every application must be accompanied by “proof of parentage” documentation, consisting of either:

• A detailed birth certificate indicating the name of the parent(s) issued by a Canadian provincial or territorial vital statistics agency if the child was born in Canada. This document will serve as both proof of parentage and proof of citizenship.   (Note that for a child born in Ontario, an original and certified copy of birth registration will suffice; for a child born in Quebec, an original copy of an act of birth issued after January 1, 1994 by the Directeur de l’état civil of Quebec is also acceptable);

• An order of adoption indicating the name of the adoptive parent(s); or

•A foreign birth certificate indicating the name of the parent(s) (documents in a language other than English or French must be translated to either English or French) if the child was born outside of Canada.
Parents (or legal guardians) who intend to apply for passports for their child must factor in additional time to acquire the proper documentation.  A failure to provide the documentation will result in the child’s travel documentation application being rejected.

Exceptions

There are certain exceptions to these new requirements; no “proof of parentage” documentation is required in case where all of the following criteria are met:  

•A Canadian travel document has previously been issued to the child in his or her name;

•The previously issued travel document is still valid or expired for less than one year; and

•The previously issued travel document accompanies the new application.
Separation or divorce by child’s parents

In cases where the child’s parents have divorced or separated, any legal documents that refer to the custody, mobility, or access to the child must be provided along with the application and proof of parentage documentation.

If the child’s parents have formally divorced, a copy of the divorce judgment or order must also be provided. Similarly, if a separation agreement exists between the child’s parents, it must also be provided with the passport application.

Russell Alexander Family Lawyers work exclusively on divorce law and family related matters, including custody, spousal support, child support, alimony and separation. We are located in Ontario, and serve the communities of Oshawa, Whitby, Pickering, Ajax, Markham, Brooklin, and City of Kawartha Lakes (Lindsay).

For further information, visit www.RussellAlexander.com

Top Five Things You Should Know About Passports for Children

Top Five Things You Should Know About Passports for Children

With the holidays fast approaching, and with parents starting to give thought to visiting relatives and planning winter getaways, it’s a good time to revisit the basic points about passport requirements for children.   Here are the top five things Canadians should to know:

1. Children  who travel need a Canadian passport

Back in January of 2007, Passport Canada imposed a number of rules pertaining to passports, which included specific provisions applicable to children.  Specifically:

• All Canadians entering the U.S. by air – including children whether accompanied by a parent or not  – must have a valid Canadian passport.   For these purposes, a “child” is anyone aged three to 16, while an “infant” is anyone under age three.

• As with passports for adults, any child or infant who is a Canadian citizen is eligible to apply; once issued, the passport is good for five years for children, and three years for infants.  

• Children need their own passports to travel abroad (i.e. non-U.S. destinations), even if accompanied by a parent.  

• Children who are not travelling with both parents should carry a “Letter of Consent” which states that both parents agree to the child travelling.   (Although this is not a strict legal requirement, it serves to facilitate a child’s entry into another country).

(As an interesting aside, note that effective 2012, Canadians will have the option of applying for a 10-year passport, and also for an electronic / biometric passports, which will feature electronic chip technology, as well as hidden digital photos, holographic images, and a government signature).

2.  Passport photos

Passport photos for child applications must show the child’s head and shoulders, and must be taken by a professional photographer.
In situations involving infants who need to be held, the parents’ hands and arms may not show in the photo.   Passport Canada is not strict as to an infant’s facial expression on a passport photo, i.e. the infant’s mouth may be open or closed.

3.  The need for children’s passports is dispensed with in some cases

Strictly speaking, children under the age of 15 years are permitted to cross the U.S. border (whether by land or water) without a passport, but must show proof of citizenship (i.e. an original or copy of a Birth Certificate, or an original Canadian citizenship card).  However, children who travel by air must show a passport.
Also, Canadian citizens 18 years of age and under who are travelling with a school or other organized group, under adult supervision and with parental/guardian consent may also present proof of citizenship alone.

4.  Children of separated parents

As a means of preventing child abduction in situations of family discord, the Canada Border Services Agency and the United States Customs and Border Protection Office have certain additional requirements in connection with travel by children of separated parents, when in the company of only one of those parents.
Specifically, the parent with whom the child travels must provide a Notarized Letter of Permission, which is evidence of his or her entitlement to travel with the child.   This letter must include complete contact information for all parents or legal guardians.

5. Renewal

A child’s passport may be renewed up to 12 months before it expires.   Although there is a simplified renewal process for passports issued to adults, it does not apply to passports for children.   Instead, the renewal of a child’s passport requires proof of Canadian citizenship (consisting of either a “Birth Certificate”, or “Certificate of Birth” which has been issued by a provincial/territorial authority in Canada).  If available, a long-form Birth Certificate (which lists both parents) should be presented.

If there is an existing Canadian passport for the child, it must also be provided, together with a certificate of identity or refugee travel document (if applicable).  
If the child’s current passport expires more than 12 months from the date that the application is being made, a written explanation for the early renewal application must be provided.
Note that both the application process and the renewal process take time, and prudent parents must plan accordingly, so that the child’s passport is in hand long before the anticipated trip departure date.

For further information, visit the Passport Canada website at: http://www.ppt.gc.ca/index.aspx

Top 10 Things to Know About Children and Passports

Top 10 Things to Know About Children and Passports

With Spring Break coming soon, and summer holidays being just around the corner, it’s a good time to revisit the law in connection with passports for children of parents who are separated or divorced.

1.  All children need their own passports to travel.

Since June 1, 2009 all Canadians, including children travelling to the U.S., must present a document that is compliant with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). For entry into the U.S., this includes a Canadian passport or a NEXUS card when available.

2.  A parent or specified adult must make the application.

Children over age 16 can apply for their own passports. For children under that age, a Canadian federal regulation titled the “Canadian Passport Order” outlines who can apply on the child’s behalf. The list includes:

• One of the child’s parents;

• The custodial parent, in the case of separation or divorce; and

• The child’s legal guardian.

3.  A photo of the child, plus proof of Canadian citizenship is needed for the passport application.

This includes a birth certificate or a certificate of Canadian citizenship. Also, the child should be involved in making the passport application if at all possible; while there is no strict requirement for the child’s presence or participation when a parent or legal guardian applies, the child should ideally be involved and should sign the application form if entitled to do so.

4.  Where the parents are separated or divorced, there are special rules.

In such cases the following stipulations govern:

• The parent with custodial rights may apply on the child’s behalf.

• If joint custody provisions exist, then either parent may apply, but both parents must provide their consent by signing the application.

• In cases where one parent has sole custody, the custodial parent should apply; the consent of the non-custodial is not mandatory if he or she has “reasonable access”.

• If one parent has sole custody but the non-custodial parent has specific access, then his or her signature must appear on the application (although in some specific scenarios, a passport may still issue without it).

5.  All documents relating to child custody, access or mobility should accompany the passport application.

This is to satisfy Passport Canada that the terms of a court order or separation agreement will not be breached if a passport is issued. Therefore, in cases where a divorce has been granted, a copy of the divorce judgment should be provided; similarly, a copy of any separation agreement should be supplied by the parent or parents who make the application.

6.  Mobility restrictions may have to be accounted for.

If, as part of a separation agreement or divorce judgment, there are mobility restrictions in place which place limits on the ability of the child to travel or move residences, then a passport will not be issued, unless:

• the restriction has been removed by a court order;

• the court has issued an authorization to travel; or

• both parents have consented.

7.  If the other parent cannot be located, a court order may be needed.

In cases where the parent making the application cannot locate the other parent, then a court order may be sought, confirming that the custodial parent can apply for a passport without the other parent’s involvement. Alternatively, a statutory declaration attesting to the location of the other parent may be acceptable in some circumstances.

8.  A court order may be necessary if the other parent refuses to co-operate.

If there is joint custody but the other parent refuses to consent to the application, then the parent making the application must obtain a court order allowing for the application to proceed without the needed consent. Also, in cases of high conflict where the parent making the application is fearful of contacting the other parent, or where there is a restraining order in place, the court can make an order allowing the application to proceed without the other parent’s participation. In some cases, Passport Canada may also send a consent form directly to the non-custodial parent for his or her signature.

9.  Separation after-the-fact is irrelevant.

Even if the parents have separated after the child’s passport was issued, the parents remain free to use it. Passport Canada will not ask a parent to return a validly-issued passport in these circumstances, even if custody, access or mobility has changed since the passport was issued.

10.  A Letter of Consent should still accompany the valid passport for travel.

 Even if a valid passport has been issued for the child, any time they are scheduled to travel outside of Canada – whether alone or with one parent or other relative – a Letter of Consent should be obtained from the other parent. This serves as evidence that the child has the consent of both parents to embark on the trip.

The rules surrounding passport applications for children in cases involving separation and divorce will differ according to the facts of each situation. Consultations to explore the issue with Mr. Alexander and or his staff can be arranged by contacting 905.655.6335.

Also, further information other family law and related issues is also available on our main website www.russellalexander.com