The main holiday season is fast approaching and for the first time in a couple of years, many people will be taking their children off to sunnier climes. As well as packing the usual beachwear, sun cream and passports (do check they are still valid and have the required time left on them!), it could be necessary to take a little extra paperwork along for those people whose surname is different to their child’s.
A different surname might arise for a host of reasons, such as a divorce and subsequent name change, keeping a maiden name on marriage or re-marriage, or having a child with a double-barrelled surname.
If a child, who is coming on holiday with an adult, does have a different surname, it’s important to be aware of the pitfalls of not having sufficient paperwork to show that the child is perfectly entitled to be on holiday with that person.
As well as the child’s passport, taking a paper trail to prove who their parents are is vital. This includes the child’s birth certificate, as well as the parents, and if they have changed their surname upon divorce, the change of name deed and a copy of the final order (previously known as Decree Absolute) is also necessary. Bringing along an expired passport, which proves the name change could also be helpful.
Obtaining the written consent of the other parent or anyone who has parental responsibility for the child is another wise move. A properly drawn up consent form, or if that’s not possible, a letter from the other parent, confirming their full contact details, that they are the parent of the child and that they have given consent for the holiday, along with their signature, should suffice.
Having an awareness of the questions that might be asked at the immigration desk is important, as it allows a level of preparation between parent and child. They might be asked the identity of the other parent, for example.
Consent is not legally required by the other parent if the holiday is for less than 28 days and a Child Arrangements Court order is already in place to confirm the child lives with the parent taking them on holiday, but it is always better to have it, rather than run the risk.
If the other parent won’t agree to the holiday, it’s not too late, speaking to a family lawyer about obtaining an order from the court is an option. Similarly, if you are aware that the other parent plans on taking the child abroad and you do not consent, it is an option to apply to the court for a prohibited steps order to stop the holiday from going ahead. This is particularly important if you are concerned the child may not return.