Senior family court Judge for the south-west HHJ Stephen Wildblood has commented on how the family courts are being filled up by private law cases that should not require court involvement He noted examples of these types of cases which he has...
When a child’s parentage is called into question, it can be a difficult and emotive issue for all concerned.
Paternity disputes may arise during pregnancy, or when a child is much older and has already established a sense of identity. Issues over paternity may not surface until separation and can be prompted due to an application for contact, parental responsibility or financial support for children.
What is involved?
Paternity testing using DNA is a well-established scientific procedure that can identify relationships between people. DNA testing has become cheaper and more widespread. It used to require blood samples but can now be done with less invasive samples such as a mouth swab. There are many companies advertising DNA home kits which can be obtained very cheaply. The results for such tests are susceptible to tampering and will not usually be accepted as evidence in the event of a dispute being resolved through a court application.
For evidential purposes tests must be undertaken under controlled conditions. The Ministry of Justice maintains a list of accredited testers that must meet certain requirements designed to ensure that the evidence is sound and reliable. DNA testing is often more than 99% accurate. Usually a sample is required from the mother, alleged father and child concerned.
If DNA testing cannot be agreed then an application can be made to court for a declaration of parentage. The court does have a statutory power to direct scientific testing if one party does not want testing to be done. Before making that direction the court must be satisfied that it is in the child’s best interests for testing to proceed. A refusal of such a test would be rare, particularly if the application is made by either parent. It is generally taken that the interests of the children are best served by knowing who their parents are.
In some circumstances the Child Support Agency can arrange DNA testing; this usually arises where a question over paternity arises in response to an application for Child Support.
Why we are different
It can be a very difficult decision to make to challenge paternity, even if the test merely confirms the position, it can create resentment between parents going forward. We will provide sensible and clear guidance on all the options available to you to help you make that decision. The question of a child’s paternity is an issue of such magnitude that it is important to get it right.
We will approach your case with great sensitivity and tact. If you decide that a test is required, we will do our upmost to resolve matters by agreement and advise you on the merits of making an application to court.
If you discover through DNA testing that you are not the biological parent, this does not necessarily end matters. If you have an established relationship with the child in question, a court may still find that it is in the child’s best interests to maintain a relationship with you.
Your Next Step
For more information, call us today on 0208 882 9850