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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Protecting minors when notarizing.

For a Person Who is a Minor
Generally speaking, the notary may notarize for a minor; however, all of the requirements of the notary laws must be followed.
Is there an age limit?
The notary laws do not limit notarizations based upon a person’s age.  The Governor’s Notary Section recommends that a notary exercise caution when notarizing for a minor. In particular, the notary should determine whether the minor understands the nature of an oath or acknowledgment before notarizing.
For example, a woman recently called our office to ask whether she could notarize the signature of a 4-year-old child. The father wanted to transfer the title of a boat to his child. A child of this young age would probably not understand the transaction. On the other hand, we recently encountered a situation involving a 12-year-old child who wanted to submit a sworn statement to the court regarding an incident that she witnessed. She actually wrote down what she had seen and wanted to sign her statement and swear to it in the presence of a notary. Most likely, a 12-year-old child would understand the act of swearing to the truthfulness of a statement.
In these types of situations, the notary will question the child to make sure that he or she understands the nature of an oath or an acknowledgment. The notary should also determine that the child is not being pressured or coerced to sign the document.
When a child is too young to comprehend the transaction, a parent sometimes signs on behalf of the child. If asked to notarize in that situation, it is the parent’s signature that is to be notarized, not the child’s.
What about identification for a minor?
Any time a signature is notarized, the signer, including a minor, must provide acceptable identification to the notary. The problem, of course, is that most minors do not have one of the forms of acceptable identification listed in the Florida Statutes. There are two possible solutions.
First, you may be interested to know that any person 12 years of age or older may be issued
a state identification card. To obtain the card, the person should apply at the local Division of Motor Vehicles office where driver’s licenses are issued.
Second, you may use the sworn written statement of a credible witness to identify the minor.
When asked to notarize the signature of a minor, the notary may refuse to do so if unsure about any aspect of the notarization. In unusual situations, the notary may even suggest that the minor or his or her parent or guardian see an attorney.


Children - Child traveling with one parent or someone who is not a parent or legal guardian or a group

If a child (under the age of 19) is traveling with only one parent or someone who is not a parent or legal guardian, what paperwork should the adult have to indicate permission or legal authority to have that child in their care?

Due to the increasing incidents of child abductions in disputed custody cases and as possible victims of child pornography, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) strongly recommends that unless the child is accompanied by both parents, the adult have a note from the child's other parent (or, in the case of a child traveling with grandparents, uncles or aunts, sisters or brothers, friends, or in groups*, a note signed by both parents) stating "I acknowledge that my wife/husband/etc. is traveling out of the country with my son/daughter/group. He/She/They has/have my permission to do so." See our Q&A parental consent.
* School groups, teen tours, vacation groups.
CBP also suggests that this note be notarized.
While CBP may not ask to see this documentation, if we do ask, and you do not have it, you may be detained until the circumstances of the child traveling without both parents can be fully assessed. If there is no second parent with legal claims to the child (deceased, sole custody, etc.) any other relevant paperwork, such as a court decision, birth certificate naming only one parent, death certificate, etc., would be useful.

Adults traveling with children should also be aware that, while the U.S. does not require this documentation, many other countries do; failure to produce notarized permission letters and/or birth certificates could result in travelers being refused entry (Canada has very strict requirements in this regard).

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