Kay Stewart discussed travelling abroad with children

When taking children out of the UK, there are many questions from parents about the legal considerations, most commonly where the parents and children have different surnames.

What is Parental Responsibility?

Parental responsibility is defined in s3(1) of the Children Act 1989 as being: ‘all duties and responsibilities that parents have for their children and property’. This means having the power to make important decisions in relation to a child. Also, the term focuses on the parents’ duties towards their child rather than the rights over their child.

This can include:

  • determining the child’s education
  • registering or changing name
  • consenting to taking the child abroad
  • representing in legal proceedings
  • accessing medical records

What permission do I need to take a child abroad?

The law is clear when considering foreign travel with a child. Both parents must agree for the child to travel to the chosen destination. If one parent disagrees with the child travelling, the other parent must seek permission from the court. This is a requirement if the child’s surname is the same, or different as the parents’ seeking permission.

What if the child and parent have different surnames? 

It is becoming increasingly common for a child to have a different surname from the parent they are travelling with. Parents may give different last names to their children for various reasons such as severing ties, maintaining family heritage or one parent no longer wanting to be associated with the child.

What to remember when travelling with a child with a different surname?

  • You must remember to carry documentary evidence that can attest to the relationship with the child and consent travel.
  • Permission from each person with parental responsibility
  • Permission from the court

For further information on this topic or on any other legal area, please contact John Szepietowski or Kay Stewart at Audley Chaucer Solicitors on 01372 303444 or email admin@audleychaucer.com or visit our Linkedin page.

Gaina Kapoor

This information was correct as of October 2023

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