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Is it My Right to Know If He's Really My Father?

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 17 Sep 2020 | comments*Discuss
 
Is It My Right To Know If He's Really My Father?

Q.

I am almost 60 years old and my father now claims that he may not be my father. He is elderly and has said that he will do a DNA test and then he says that he will not.

Do I have a human right to know the truth of the matter and to insist that he performs this test to prove or disprove his claims? I seem to have an overwhelming need to know.

(LT, 10 February 2009)

A.

To be told that the person you believed was your father for nearly sixty years 'may not be', would be a tremendous shock. Your father, who must be at least about 80, seems to be playing with your emotions. First he tells you that you 'may not be' his daughter. Then he dangles the promise of the truth, in the form of a DNA test, in front of you.

If this is the first suggestion, in nearly sixty years, that he is not your father – one is left to wonder if this revelation may be the result of an age-related condition rather than any basis in fact. Have you discussed your father’s allegation with other family members?

Your question is about the rights of a child to know who his or her parents are. In legal terms, if a man was married to the child’s mother at the time of the birth and is named on the birth certificate as the child’s father, it is presumed that he is the father. Firm evidence, usually in the form of a DNA test, would have to be provided in order to rebut this presumption.

In some situations where a child’s paternity is an issue in a legal case, a court may order that a DNA test be carried out to resolve the question of paternity. In the case of a child, under the age of 18, the courts or other authorities may decide that it is not in the child’s best interests to know who his or her biological father is. Children who are adopted have the right, once they have reached 18, to find out who their biological parents are.

Many people believe that it is a fundamental human right to know who one’s biological parents are. The relevant provision of the Human Rights Convention would be Article 8 – the right to respect for private and family life. Arguably this includes the right to information about one’s identity. However this right is not absolute and other factors could override the right.

If your father refuses to have a DNA test, you could apply to a court for an order forcing your father to take a test. This could be done on the basis of your potential inheritance rights. An application may be made under section 56 of the Family Law Act 1986 by an adult child for a declaration as to the identity of their father. However, bringing court proceedings against your elderly father would not be a step to be taken lightly and independent legal advice should be sought before going down this path.

Many companies offer private, or so-called 'peace of mind', DNA tests – an appropriate sample is collected from the subject and sent to a laboratory for testing. This could answer your question but the truth could be devastating, the legality surrounding the test may be questionable and the result could not be used in a legal case.

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None - 10-Feb-19 @ 1:46 PM
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T - 3-Nov-18 @ 7:36 PM
My mother’s husband supposedly adopted me when I was about 3yrs old. I have always known he wasn’t my biological father. My mother told me the identity of my biological father when I was in my teens. She says my adopted father had insisted she shouldn’t allow me to have contact with my biological father, or know his identity. I am now in my 40s, and seem to hit with a variety of health issues I wouldn’t have predicted from my maternal medical history. I feel if I had always had always had knowledge of my full paternal medical history, I might have been more able to look out for certain signs and symptoms and I could have enjoyed better health. Do I have any right to insist on contact with my biological father in the grounds of wanting to know my full medical history?
123ABC - 10-Jul-18 @ 4:43 AM
AJAYI morenike - Your Question:
I got pregnant for my bf, he ran away since he found out , he claims he is not responsible, asked him if we could do a DNA. he reused. How can I get the court to make him do it? And if he received the order, what are the chances of him refusing to do this.?Thanks

Our Response:
A court can order a DNA test and if it proves positive, your baby's father can be made to pay maintenance. He cannot be forced to have contact with the child though.
AboutHumanRights - 5-Jul-18 @ 3:21 PM
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