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FAMILY LAW UPDATES

NEW LAW TARGETS CHILD ABDUCTION: NO NEW PASSPORTS!

by Sara B. Morgan, Esq.

Under existing law, upon the institution of divorce, nullity, or legal separation proceedings, certain temporary restraining order automatically go into effect. Family Code, Section 2040.

Included amongst these orders, commonly referred to as “Automatic TRO’s” or “ATRO’s”, is a temporary restraining order precluding either party from removing any minor children from the state without prior written consent from the other party, or a court order. Family Code, Section 2040(a)(1).

The State Legislature, in an effort to target and prevent child abduction, has enacted Keisuke’s Law, also known as Senate Bill 1206. Effective January 1, 2013, the automatic temporary restraining orders under Family Code, Section 2040 will now also restrain the parties from applying for new or replacement passports for any minor children of the parties without the prior written consent of the other party, or a court order. S.B. 1206.

This legislative change may prove quite beneficial to parents involved in divorce, nullity, or legal separation proceedings, as well as the Family Law courts in California. Removal of a child is a common fear for such parents, particularly when the other party has ties abroad. Many an ex parte hearing was borne of word that a child’s passport application has been submitted. With the passage of Keisuke’s Law, the legislature may be able to give parents peace of mind while simultaneously lessening the Family Law court’s caseload.

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