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Don't get caught out if your child has a different surname to your own; emma gill talks to a solicitor about how to avoid pitfalls.

Byline: emma gill

PARENTS travelling abroad with children who don't share the same surname are being urged to take steps to avoid their holidays being ruined. It's not unusual for a parent to have a different surname to their offspring - but many are unaware of the problems it can cause at the airport.

Now a lawyer is warning mums and dads that they could "unknowingly end up embroiled in a child abduction case, be refused past check-in, or turned away at border control" if they fail to take the right documents with them.

Being stopped, questioned and even turned away at border control is an ordeal an estimated 600,000 parents have had to deal with.

One of those was Wigan mum Hannah Marshall, who was stopped with her daughter, Lilly, at London Stansted Airport, when they returned from a holiday in Denmark.

At the time Hannah, 28, wasn't married to Lilly's dad, Scott, so, while Lilly had the surname Marshall, Hannah's was still Thomas.

Hannah explained: "While queuing, I went to one desk with my daughter and my partner and his mum went to another desk for passport control.

"They looked at both mine and my daughter's passports, then asked me how I knew the little girl, and when I said it was my daughter they asked why I did not have the same last name.

"They asked my daughter who I was to her and that's when my partner came over and explained that she's his daughter, too, and as we weren't married she had his last name.

"They told us that my partner should have taken her through passport control because I would need to prove she was my daughter. They checked my partner's passport to prove she held the same last name, and then let us through."

It can, however, be difficult for a person to prove they are a child's parent on the spot, unless they are carrying the right documents.

David Connor, who heads the family department at Woodcocks Haworth and Nuttall Solicitors, says parents need to plan ahead to avoid being caught out.

He said: "People need to take extra caution when holidaying with children who don't share their surname, as they could unknowingly end up embroiled in a child abduction case, be refused past check-in, or turned away at border control.

"It's vital you have the correct documentation to hand, or it could derail your trip.

"For separated families, you'll need evidence of approval from your child's other parent, but remember to seek approval from everyone with parental responsibility - this may include grandparents, too."

He added: "You'll also need a copy of any Child Arrangement Order which proves you have court approval to take the child abroad.

"It's vital that all evidence marries up, and this is where divorced parents are often caught out, particularly women who revert back to their maiden name. A change of name deed will help here, which can be supplied by a solicitor. Take a copy of your child's birth certificate with you, too, to prove who you are."

You won't need permission from an absent parent if they're not on the child's birth certificate, but, if an absent parent has died, you may be required to take the death certificate with you.

If an absent parent doesn't consent to you taking the child out of the country, you will need to go to court to try and resolve the matter. | Visit for more information.


Don't get caught out at Passport Control if your child has a different surname to you
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 8, 2019
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