Paternity & Declaration of Parentage in Family Law

HOW CAN I PROVE I AM THE FATHER OF A CHILD?

Family law matters relating to child arrangements and inheritance can sometimes call the paternity of a child into dispute. In some scenarios, a Declaration of Parentage or Non-Parentage may be required and a DNA paternity test might be necessary. The requirements vary depending on the situation.

A Declaration of Parentage declares whether a named individual is the legal parent of another person under English law. As well as being used in paternity disputes, it 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.

PATERNITY DISPUTES & 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 make an application to the court if you are unhappy with the conclusion reached by the CMS.

DECLARATION OF PARENTAGE PROCESS

To apply for a Declaration of Parentage, you must complete a C63 application form. Applicants are required to pay a court fee of £365.00, however, those with low incomes or receiving income-based benefits can apply for an exemption.

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.

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

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.

If you are struggling to make progress with reaching a resolution to the matter of paternity then I will be happy to assist you. Email me at hardeepdhillon@richardnelsonllp.co.uk or call 0333 888 4040.

 

Written by Hardeep Dhillon

Hardeep Dhillon is a consultant solicitor for Richard Nelson LLP. With over 10 years of experience, Hardeep specialises in family law with extensive experience in areas such as divorce, judicial separation and domestic violence.

Read more about Hardeep Dhillon.

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