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

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 24 May 2017 | 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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Ree - Your Question:
I have a young man who is 22 and his bio mother left him when he was 1 with his step dad who demanded basically that he go on the birth certificate at time of birth. I just helped him locate his bio father so his mom says, they do look alike but the man is wanting a dna can they get one for free and where do they start. The man is willing to do DNA thank you for your help.

Our Response:
We don't know whether you will be able to get one for free. If incorrect information has been given deliberately this is fraud and legal action could be taken against the parent/step parent - the courts in a case like that might order a DNA test for proof.
AboutHumanRights - 25-May-17 @ 9:46 AM
I have a young man who is 22 and his bio mother left him when he was 1 with his step dad who demanded basically that he go on the birth certificate at time of birth. I just helped him locate his bio father so his mom says, they do look alike but the man is wanting a dna can they get one for free and where do they start.... The man is willing to do DNA thank you for your help.
Ree - 24-May-17 @ 4:56 AM
I recently found my dad after 37 years. Hes never been in my life. Ive always knew very little about him just that he had 2 additional girls and is married. After many years trying to search off and on for him i finally found him and his girls. I never met them. I have talked to one girl over the phone. "My dad" will not attempt to talk to me or about me and insist he is not my father, but rather my uncle and accuses his brother of being my father. ( and still wont talk to me even with his own accusations saying hes my uncle..heehee) bottom line i have no time for his lies or anyones lies. What are my rights here for a paternity test just to know who my dad is? My mother has always told me it was him and has never changed her story. Honestly he never been there for her so theres nothing to gain from lying so i do believe her. His own daughter also feels like we may be related and sees some resemblence in each other.Truthfully i have to agree with her. Please advise.
Justme - 19-Apr-17 @ 1:43 PM
peanuts - Your Question:
My father passed away ,I hadn't seen him since I was 8 years old, leaving a note behind saying he wasn't my father, is there a way to find out if this is true or not thankyou

Our Response:
We don't know how much information you have. Have you asked your mother about it?
AboutHumanRights - 18-Apr-17 @ 10:15 AM
my father passed away ,I hadn't seen him since I was 8 years old, leaving a note behind saying he wasn't my father, is there a way to find out if this is true or not thankyou
peanuts - 15-Apr-17 @ 3:02 AM
Frog - Your Question:
I'm a43year old man and just found out that the man that raise men is Not my real dad. My mom passed when I was 11 of lucena cancer. And he raised me until I was 14,15 then in my on,,, my dying aunt told me the secret. We did d n a test on this man an 99% poss. All my brothers r dead from sucidide or cancer? My life is an has been turned upside down I'm at a point of doing the same sum days,,, I hate myself and need to get this man to do right thing. He said he's was a sperm doner an wants nothing to do with me?? He doesn't even know me? Please help

Our Response:
If he was genuinely a sperm donor (ie via a fertility clinic) then there he does not have any responsibilities or obligations towards you.
AboutHumanRights - 11-Apr-17 @ 12:23 PM
I'm a43year old man and just found out that the man that raise men is Not my real dad. My mom passed when I was 11 of lucena cancer. And he raised me until I was 14,15 then in my on,,, my dying aunt told me the secret. We did d n a test on this man an 99% poss. All my brothers r dead from sucidide or cancer? My life is an has been turned upside down I'm at a point of doing the same sum days,,, I hate myself and need to get this man to do right thing. He said he's was a sperm doner an wants nothing to do with me?? He doesn't even know me? Please help
Frog - 9-Apr-17 @ 8:44 PM
I am twenty three years old, never met my dad...ever! Have been told little information. One full name, no age, no possible whereabouts, connections...not even looks, build or age. I have after many years of searching found a local man by the name which is an unusual one. It's my word against his but is there a possible way to enforce a DNA test?
PJ - 24-Mar-17 @ 11:14 PM
My mother's first marriage ended in divorce and birth of my older brother my birth however has always been a problem as I have same last name as my brother and his dad however no father listed on birth certificate have always been told he was not my dad but always suspected he was he is now deceased what are my chances of contesting inheritance from him if truly believe he was my dad
gina - 22-Mar-17 @ 8:56 AM
I am 45 i found out when i was 24 about who my biological father is. He refuses to take a DNA test he is not on my birth certificate. I have only talked to him once on the phone an he said i had inherited a few of his traits but, now asking for a DNA test but refuses to take one. I need to know for my identity an health issues. What is my options?
Tina - 20-Mar-17 @ 9:57 PM
Gail - Your Question:
I am 58 know who my father is but I need to have a paternity test done,for inheritance reasonsI have another mans name on my birth certificate I just need to have some advice how to deal with this situation

Our Response:
We suggest you seek professional legal advice in this instance. If you want to insist on a DNA test for paternity, your might have to do so via the courts.
AboutHumanRights - 14-Mar-17 @ 1:57 PM
I am 58 know who my father is but I need to have a paternity test done,for inheritance reasons I have another mans name on my birth certificate I just need to have some advice how to deal with this situation
Gail - 12-Mar-17 @ 5:50 PM
My question is.Can I establish my paternal heritage and my entitlement to dual natiomalty? . My mother dies in 2003 taking the identity of my father with her.I have a name and have been in contact with a man who is the brother of somebody who was in the right area at the right time and remarkably in my case has the name my mother gave.I say remarkable as it is a Maltese name which I am sure would have been in fairly shirt supply in 1965.The man I contacted assures me that both he and my potential father have no recollection of my mother. All the pieces fitted yet tge puzzle still remains. What are my legal rights? Am I to believe that I have no way of claiming what should be a birthright.I do not want anything from this other than my right to my own identity.
cyberpops - 20-Feb-17 @ 3:48 PM
I really forgot to mention the most important part. I know from my living DNA that I am Ashkenazi Jewish, and where my mother's halpo type is. My DNA living also suggests, although this in not conclusive, that I have the pattern of genes that might make up part of me as a Sephardic Jew as well. This would make me almost 50% Jewish combined. If my brother's haplo type is Jewish in origin, and not Ashkenazi or only Ashkenazi but the same pattern as mine, possibly I would have proof that I am closer to 50% Jewish. Do you see what I mean. They use to only look at maternal lineage but with DNA or genomics, we can now know for sure if someone is Jewish or not. It would add to the proof and add to the amount, possibly, of Jewishness I have, plus it would be so good to know what part of the world his old ancestors came from, as I am interested in following their footsteps, and knowing better where they dispersed, and what their experiences are. Of course if my brother has no AJ Jewish Genes than I also would know my father's father was not my real grandfather, and I think it only fair he shares that with me. I feel he doesn't own this information, but that it belongs to both of us. There should be a law to this effect?
Not so French - 5-Feb-17 @ 8:20 AM
My question is a bit different. My mother and father are both known to me and I do not doubt my father's paternity. The fact is that he had a set of parents and they had three children, of which he was the only male )recieving the Y chromosome). My father has died, many years ago, and my brother is the only living person alive related to my dad that could give me his DNA Haplotype, and his DNA so I can one compare to mine, and two use it to show proof of Jewish Heritage (in the reform church you only need one male or female parent, or grandparents to be considered Jewish, if you want to convert, which is my situation.) I have my mother's DNA and she has no Jewish DNA, but I have a lot, and it suggests my father or his father was 100% Jewish. So the only way I can get this informationi is from my brother. I also want to know what possible other genetic conditions our family might inherit, if my brother has copies of similar ones, etc. I am not sure of this part. Anyway, I asked him if he would do this, and he flat out said no, with no explanation. He is the only relative I can get this from, and it makes a difference for me on many levels, mostly for converting to Judaism. Is there a way I can get a court order to make him take the Ancestry type DNA test, and share it with me,? We have some heart and lipid issues that are fatal, and my dad may have died of one of them, and we would know from one of the test if he might have had this condition. Also, my son has a condition and we can't figure out where he got it f rom. I don't know that it would be helpful or not in my son's case, but might be helpful in predictingfuture health issues for myself and maybe my children. Can you give me an answer to this situation?
Not so French - 5-Feb-17 @ 8:04 AM
i m 31 and was raised by my grandmother who is now late,im now working and have kids but my question is can i stil claim money from my biological father as he is finantially stable but never raised me
aggy - 1-Feb-17 @ 11:39 AM
I'm 28. My mother (who is white with fair hair and blue eyes) told me when I was 5 years old that the man I believed to be my Father wasn't and that a man from southern England was (who is also white with blue eyes) and who is now deceased...I have olive skin and green eyes and have always questioned whether my mother is being entirely honest or not...but my predicament now is the fact my 'biological' father has now passed away so how would I be able to find out for sure without obviously having access to his dna results?
CPounder04 - 26-Jan-17 @ 1:07 AM
Oi Oi i have no problems as my family ACTUALLY love me
Big Boy Kendawg - 9-Jan-17 @ 11:29 AM
What is a good test to take. I'm 44 and the man I knew as my dad is still here but because if my mothers lies he wonders out if 8 kids which ones are his. I want to know as well. Tired if the lies and disconnect in this family. Please help.
Sweetk - 16-Dec-16 @ 12:27 PM
I need some answers.My mother who is deceased has told me that the man who gave me my name Missy Gayle Elkins is not my father. I was 13 when she said this and has said it until the day she passed.He tells me that I am his and will not do a DNA test.I had a very bad childhoodand I feel I need the truth.he said that he meet my mother new years eve of 65.They are married in 3-1967.I was born 8-1967. Some thing is not adding up. I just want the truth,but can not get it.I am now 49.I have never had a good relationship with him.
NotSure - 25-Nov-16 @ 10:23 PM
Ken - Your Question:
I'm 37, so this is obviously an adult child scenario. It is ultimately disappointing and frustrating that he can, firstly, behave in this way, but from a legal perspective cast aspersions with no consequence upon him. Is there nothing that can be done from a probate perspective or does that need to be after he has passed away?

Our Response:
We don't know about this scenario - you might want to seek legal advice sorry.
AboutHumanRights - 17-Nov-16 @ 12:26 PM
I'm 37, so this is obviously an adult child scenario. It is ultimately disappointing and frustrating that he can, firstly, behave in this way, but from a legal perspective cast aspersions with no consequence upon him.Is there nothing that can be done from a probate perspective or does that need to be after he has passed away?
Ken - 16-Nov-16 @ 2:35 PM
Ken - Your Question:
It is interesting finding this page as I find a lot of similarities with my own situation and is something I can definitely relate to. Meeting my biological father is a journey I have been on over the last few years and, like so many of the above stories, is not one that has been easy or straightforward. I've also realised that there are facts and there are emotions and these need to be dealt with separately when talking about establishing parentage. I'll break them out separately below but the question I would like an answer to is quite simple..can my father be forced to take a DNA to establish paternity to me? Under what basis could this be forced (probate, etc.).Facts- No father was named on my birth certificate- He paid child maintenance for me until I was about 11 before this was stopped when my mother married- He was in a relationship with my mother at the time- I have always known and been told he was my father- Over the two to three year process of eventually getting to meet him he has constantly cast doubt over his parentage to me, saying he doesn't know- He agreed to do a paternity test when we met but regaled on that when I organised a legal one, he would only complete a peace of mind test (I was unwilling to do this as I would not trust a false result)- I do not want a penny from him, but if I need to use the probate route to establish parentage, then I would be willing to do thatAny comments/help would be gratefully received.

Our Response:
It's very rare that the courts will order a dna parentage test if the father will not consent to it. The CSA can ask the courts to order one as part of their financial case though. (You haven't given your age so we can't really comment on the latter part)
AboutHumanRights - 16-Nov-16 @ 10:33 AM
It is interesting finding this page as I find a lot of similarities with my own situation and is something I can definitely relate to.Meeting my biological father is a journey I have been on over the last few years and, like so many of the above stories, is not one that has been easy or straightforward.I've also realised that there are facts and there are emotions and these need to be dealt with separately when talking about establishing parentage.I'll break them out separately below but the question I would like an answer to is quite simple.............can my father be forced to take a DNA to establish paternity to me?Under what basis could this be forced (probate, etc.). Facts - No father was named on my birth certificate - He paid child maintenance for me until I was about 11 before this was stopped when my mother married - He was in a relationship with my mother at the time -I have always known and been told he was my father - Over the two to three year process of eventually getting to meet him he has constantly cast doubt over his parentage to me, saying he doesn't know - He agreed to do a paternity test when we met but regaled on that when I organised a legal one, he would only complete a peace of mind test (I was unwilling to do this as I would not trust a false result) - I do not want a penny from him, but if I need to use the probate route to establish parentage, then I would be willing to do that Any comments/help would be gratefully received.
Ken - 15-Nov-16 @ 12:59 PM
After 33yrs my husbands father who was in his life for the first 11 years was found after years of looking. However he is saying he may not be his father after all letters of request have been written asking for a DNA test so my husband can find closure and move on but there has been no response. Does he have a legal right for a DNA test? This man has since remarried with other children who know nothing of my husbands existence that's fine it can stay that way my husband just wants the truth....
Twilson - 7-Oct-16 @ 7:00 PM
I have just found out I have an 11 year old daughter, I broke up with her mother but she never told me she was pregnant and I did not hear from her or see her again. I have just been contacted on Facebook by her sister telling me I am the Father and I am not disputing it because the dates work out, even though I will still do a DNA test. The problem is the mother later become an alcohol and drug abuser and her children have been taken off her by social services and put into care. The young girl who I have been told is my daughter has been adopted and I do not know my rights for anything. I would love to get a DNA test and if she is mine I would love to be in her life. If she is settled and in school and happy I would not want to drag her away from that I just want to know what steps I can take to find out if she's mine, if I have rights to see her and how I get started on all this. All advice would be appreciated. Thank you.
Smcc89 - 25-Sep-16 @ 9:11 PM
Before my dad passed away he told me that my grandad or his dad was my brothers father,my brother or half brother has nothing to do with me,my mother favors him to no end,my dad sayed,I was his child how can I find out if my brother is a half brother.
Rabbitt - 13-Sep-16 @ 11:36 PM
Could you help.I had a child who is now 36 years old. Hisfather left when I was pregnant, we never married.He paid maintenance for 16 years, and in that time the child never saw his father.My adult childhas had contact with my son, however he is now claiming that there is doubt that he is the father, he eventually agreed to a DNA test.My son made the arrangements and advised him, he then told him that he would not take a legal DNA test but would take an unsupervised peace of mind test.This man has had an adverse affect on my life and that of my child and all of this has had an adverse affect on my child's mental health.I have a bulk of correspondence and would like to know if I applied to the court where his maintenance was paid could I ask for a legal DNA test to be done.There is no doubt about paternity but there are medical reasons why the test is required as well as the adverse affect on my child's mental health.
Celia - 25-Aug-16 @ 10:08 PM
kim - Your Question:
In 2011 after my dad (the man who raised me)passed away I was told by family members that he was not my biological father,and I needed to ask my mom questions.well my mother was suffering from Parkinson's and was unable to answer these questions. I've been told the name of the man who is believed to be my father. In 49 years old and after bee g told this,I look back and a lot makes since now. If he says his not and I've asked to just take the test to prove his not and he refuses,is there anything I can do yo make him take test? This is driving me crazy and I just need. Peace of mind about this. In driving myself crazy.please help!!!

Our Response:
Not really. It will be his choice, unless you wanted to try a court order, but there'd have to be a good reason for this (such as to find out about an inherited medical disorder etc).
AboutHumanRights - 2-Aug-16 @ 2:14 PM
In 2011 after my dad (the man who raised me)passed away I was told by family members that he was not my biological father,and I needed to ask my mom questions.well my mother was suffering from Parkinson's and was unable to answer these questions. I've been told the name of the man who is believed to be my father. In 49 years old and after bee g told this,I look back and a lot makes since now. If he says his not and I've asked to just take the test to prove his not and he refuses,is there anything I can do yo make him take test? This is driving me crazy and I just need. Peace of mind about this. In driving myself crazy...please help!!!
kim - 2-Aug-16 @ 11:41 AM
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