Family reunification question - legal guardian consent form for shared custody

Hello, I have a rather niche question about family reunification. We are wanting to apply for Portugal GVP. My husband and I have 4 kids under 18 and are a blended family. The kids have other legal guardians (co-parents) who will need to sign a consent form for the application. Has anyone done this? The form reads as if the other parent has to sign off on the kids moving to Portugal, which is not the intent here. We have no plans to move to Portugal during that window bc we share legal custody with parents who are state-side. In our plan, their citizenship is intended for potential use after they are 18. The other parents may sign if that is clear, but of course they would not sign if it seems like they are changing the US legal custody agreement. Any advice from someone who has gone through this process would be welcome!

Wow, Heather - that’s a tough one. I have not been down this road, but have a little familiarity with the law (disclaimer: I am not a family lawyer and I recommend strongly you speak with one in depth about this topic).

If I understand you correctly, you want to give the kids the benefit of Portuguese PR/citizenship for their future, which will require them to travel to Portugal for 7 days in year 1, 14 days total between years 2 and 3, and 14 days total between years 4 and 5. If the co-parents have signed off of the applications, they may be reasonably concerned that you get the kids to Portugal and then refuse to bring them back to the US, depriving them of their kids.

Both the US and Portugal are signatories to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Parental Child Abduction (1980). However, there’s still a pretty long process with no guaranteed outcome if you were to take the kids to Portugal and not let them return (I understand that’s not your intent, but am trying to approach it as if I had an ex-spouse wanting me to agree that my kid could apply for permanent residence in a foreign country). Here’s a little blurb from the U.S. Department of Justice: International Parental Kidnapping

Your issue is going to require some good communication with the co-parents and probably written agreements between you and your co-parent and your husband and his co-parent. I am assuming the custody arrangements are part of overall court decrees, which may have to be modified, as well. At least in that case the other parents would have a signed document (and possibly a court decree) that spells out this specific scenario so that, if you do “go rogue”, they have some written documents to counter the “permission slip” they signed when you initiated the process.

Good luck - giving your kids options is a wonderful opportunity for them. I hope you can all work it out!


Citizenship for children under 18 is a complex topic already and not at all guaranteed. Much has been written here with no firm conclusion but I stand in the camp that unless you’re picking up sticks with the kids and spending a lot of time there, they aren’t going to get it and will have to apply on their own when they turn 18 anyway, with the 5 year clock having been run down.

I know you want to do this for them but it may well not be workable.