Declaration of Parentage: A Comprehensive Guide

A Declaration of Parentage or Non-Parentage may be required if the paternity of a child is called into dispute – often in relation to child arrangements and inheritance. In some cases, a DNA paternity test is necessary.

In this comprehensive guide, experienced family lawyer Hardeep Dhillon explains how long a Declaration of Parentage takes, the process involved, associated costs, and more, offering expert insights and advice.

There are many nuances and complexities to consider with regard to Declaration of Parentage. Use the links below to navigate to a specific section.


What is a Declaration of Parentage?

A Declaration of Parentage declares that a named individual is the legal or biological parent of another person under English law.

The court can also make a Declaration of Non-Parentage, stating that a named person is not the parent of another.

As well as being used in paternity disputes, these declarations can also be used in problems with the completion of patient HFEA consent forms at UK fertility clinics and disputes regarding a child’s birth certificate and whether it should be re-registered.

Can a Declaration of Parentage affect a birth certificate?

A Declaration of Parentage or Non-Parentage can result in changes to a child’s birth certificate. In practice, this could mean that the father’s name is added based on the Declaration; alternatively, an incorrect name could be removed.

If you apply for a Declaration of Parentage and are declared to be the parent by the court, no further action is required on your part – the court will re-register the birth via the General Register Office.

Does a Declaration of Parentage provide Parental Responsibility?

A Declaration of Parentage does not confer Parental Responsibility – it only confirms that a father is the parent of their child.


Paternity disputes and the Child Maintenance Service

The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) is a service used to calculate, and in some instances manage payments towards, a child’s living costs between parents. The CMS also holds the power to take action if payments are not made.

The Child Maintenance Service has its own processes to determine paternity if there is a paternity dispute that revolves around the paying of child maintenance. It is possible to apply to the court for a Declaration of Parentage if you are unhappy with the conclusion reached by the CMS.


The Declaration of Parentage process

Whether you wish to confirm parentage in relation to a paternity dispute or for a child’s birth certificate, you can apply for a Declaration of Parentage under Section 55A of the Family Law Act 1986. The sections below outline the process involved and answer key questions you may have.

Form C63: applying for a Declaration of Parentage

To apply for a Declaration of Parentage, you must complete a C63 application form. Our team has an excellent track record of supporting clients in making successful applications – contact us today.

It is possible to request a paternity test directly from the parent with whom the child lives. You may need the test with respect to a point of contention in the child arrangements, or you may request it simply from the desire to know whether or not you are the parent of a child.

If the parent of the child refuses the paternity test, you can instead apply to the court to obtain a Declaration of Parentage or Non-Parentage under the Family Law Act 1986. In such a scenario, the court is likely to direct the parties and child in question to take a DNA test. If everyone involved is cooperative, the matter should be concluded swiftly.

If, however, a lack of cooperation from parties involved makes it impossible to obtain evidence via a DNA test, the court will take the matter to a hearing and will make their own conclusions from the evidence that is presented. If they make a positive finding in the hearing and decide that one party has behaved unreasonably in the process, the court may make an order for costs.

How much does a Declaration of Parentage cost?

When applying for a Declaration of Parentage, you are required to pay a court fee of £360. Those with low incomes or receiving income-based benefits can apply for an exemption.

How long does a Declaration of Parentage take?

The Declaration of Parentage court process typically takes between 6 and 12 months. However, more complex cases can take longer, and progress is dependent on court availability.

Declaration of Parentage if the father is deceased

In some cases, the father of a child is not named on their birth certificate. This occurs most often when the couple are not married: In England and Wales, an unmarried father must be present at the birth or sign a declaration that he is the father; by contrast, if the couple are married, the father does not need to be present.

Birth certificates can be amended to recognise that a deceased father is the parent of a child, but the process of obtaining a Declaration of Parentage is more complicated:

  • To carry out the paternity test, DNA can be obtained from surviving blood relatives of the deceased. 
  • Alternatively, as in the case of Spencer vs Anderson [2018], the court may order the DNA of the deceased to be taken (for example, if DNA has been stored by the hospital).

Once the DNA has been collected and the paternity test carried out, the court can have the birth certificate amended to include the deceased father’s name.


Certified paternity testing companies

If all parties are able to agree to a paternity test without the matter progressing to the courts, it is important to make sure that the testing company you select has been certified by the Ministry of Justice. Doing so will ensure that you can rely on the results if you later require them in court proceedings. The CMS, for example, will only accept paternity test results from certified providers.

At the time of writing this article, this is the list of laboratories that are able to carry out accredited paternity tests:

  • Alpha Biolaboratories (AlphaBiolabs)
  • Biofortuna Limited (NorthGene)
  • Cellmark (Orchid Cellmark Ltd)
  • Complement Genomics (Dadcheck)
  • DDC Laboratories
  • DNA Analysis at King’s College London
  • Endeavor DNA Laboratories
  • Eurofins Forensic Services Limited
  • Eurofins Medigenomix Forensik GmbH (DNA Legal)
  • Genetrack Biolabs
  • Genomics for Life (Paternity for Life)
  • IDna Genetics Limited (Anglia DNA Services)

We always recommend asking the company in question whether they are still an accredited provider when arranging the test.

Please also note that children over the age of 16 must give their permission to be tested.


How we can help

You may be unsure about whether applying for a Declaration of Parentage is the right option, or otherwise struggling to make progress with a matter of paternity. The team at Richard Nelson LLP can support you – get in touch today.

If you would like to reach out to me directly, email or call 0333 888 4040.


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