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

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 24 Mar 2021 | comments*Discuss
Is It My Right To Know If He's Really My Father?


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)


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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My father died but he only ever sent 2 birthday cards he died February 21 last year I've never known him went to see him my mother's names rare I asked him straight in front of his face are you my father what's my mother's name he said no grinning in his eyes I walked away looked bk I know 99% he's my father haven't I got a legal right any of us I Wales surely we should know on paper with a Dna test dead or alive this must be a basic human right in Wales in 2021 please help me I know he is I'm 40 now I don't know who I am it's in court waiting for an answer the solicitor is charging 50% mkeeg solicitors Newcastle I don't really know what's going on she said thier solicitors on holidays and she sent the letter last Friday I rang her yesterday coincidence this is and has always affected my mental health this is a basic human right but the man I just spoke to said no can't help and put phone down I donate to other countries water starving kids Where's our rights I need proof he is dad or not and my mother's no liar can anybody help
Dai - 24-Mar-21 @ 5:39 PM
I need help my daughter is 24 her father knows she is his but he is lying to her two brothers from his side saying she isn’t his how can I get a dna test done if he refuses thanks
Shaz - 10-Mar-21 @ 3:59 PM
Hi, I am in my mid 50s. When I was about 13, my brother and I, overheard my "dad" telling my mum in an argument they were having, "I have always loved her as if she were my own". I put it to the back of my mind until my 20s when I did quiz my mum (and other family members on her side) who all denied there being any foundations on what both, my brother and I clearly heard. Anyway, fast forward to now, my parents live abroad where my brother also lives. Following Brexit, I thought it a good idea to get a European passports for my children and myself from a Western European country they all live in. I therefore asked for her birth certificate, marriage certificate, my birth certificate etc which she sent me photos of on mobile. However, although I compartmentalised the above, niggles have always remained which exposed from certificates that my parents married a year after I was born and whilst 3 months pregnant with my brother. We were always told that they married a year before my birth. Also, there is no original birth certificate from my year of birth, but a certificate from what looks like a re-registration of my birth, at the same time my brother's birth was registered. Presumably, this was when my "father's" name was added. When I married (now divorced), I simply requested a short form birth certificate. I have naturally, questioned all this and have only had replies back from my brother who has access to their mobiles as being in very late 70s/early 80s, they're not very tech savvy; this therefore is not unusual in itself. What to me is unusual to me and incredulous, is that both my parents should have called to explain what they cannot deny. Instead, they're presumably asking my brother to reply to my texts in which I'm told that they are both very upset, saddened and stressed by my questions. Additionally, I was even asked why the interest after all this time, as if I were enquiring about a broken plate! Neither of my parents have volunteered any information and not only are they burying their heads, but they have not directly contacted me either. I've said I'm here for when they want to talk as don't want to appear aggressive; my mother now has a heart condition and my father a brain tumour, but conscious of time elapsing without answers. Any comments welcomed. Thank you
EllieBels - 5-Mar-21 @ 1:16 PM
Hi I'm 34 and my dad hates me I've asked him several times if Ian his daughter hes tells me he don't know or care I also have 3 brothers who he adores can I make him take a dna test I just need closure can please please somebody get back to me
Haylz - 29-Dec-20 @ 2:33 AM
Hi I'm 34 and my dad hates me I've asked him several times if Ian his daughter hes tells me he don't know or care I also have 3 brothers who he adores can I make him take a dna test I just need closure
Haylz - 29-Dec-20 @ 2:32 AM
Hello , My question is I met my bio father last year . During one of our first encounters he said that he seen me 5x after I was born because people said I look like him . His comment from me asking why didn’t you do a dna test was ur mom said I wasn’t so how I going to force a dna test ... my thought was if I knew a kid could been my and the dates added up a court order test . So if a bio father some what knew I was his can I collect child support for 18 years ?
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Karen - 17-Sep-20 @ 1:22 AM
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Captain - 5-Sep-20 @ 7:45 PM
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Lulu - 23-Aug-20 @ 8:48 PM
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ju - 22-Aug-20 @ 8:22 PM
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Inene - 6-Aug-20 @ 1:48 PM
What legal actions can you take if your mother will not tell you who your biological father is and you are 30 years old and found out 3 years ago the man you thought was your father wasn’t.
Eb - 5-Aug-20 @ 1:31 AM
I am a senior citizen.The oldest of four living children.About 10 years ago I learned my father is not my biological father.Both parents that raised me have been deceased since 2000 and 2001.Is there anyway to lean who my biological father is/was?I am the only child that does not match DNA of the father that raised us. My mother's childhood friend told me my biological father did not know anything about my mother being pregnant with me.Is there any hope?
Shirley - 4-Aug-20 @ 7:19 AM
How can Ipersuade my mother in law to tell us the truth who our real father is.I got married in 2016 to a wrong surname but now I wish to know who my real father in law is or was
Mavu - 26-Jul-20 @ 11:50 PM
Hi I am Nomvuselelo Chala.I would like to know how can we we persuade my mother in law to tell us the truth about who my husband's biological father is. It's been a year now since weheard that we really do not belong to Chala family. Please help.
Mavu - 26-Jul-20 @ 11:47 PM
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Trin.tjs - 7-Jun-20 @ 4:32 AM
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Nutmeg - 31-May-20 @ 1:26 PM
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Vicki - 29-May-20 @ 8:26 PM
I’m 22, I my mom is very sure this man is my dad. He won’t do a dna test and is there anyway I can demand him to ? I need help. He said to stop contacting him cuz I’m harassing but he was responding each time answering my questions and even suggested a dna test in the past but now complete 360 and denies everything .
Lexi - 4-Feb-20 @ 2:00 AM
In 1982 my partner and I had a son, and about a year months later she said she was again pregnant. This time she insisted that we got married and I readily agreed and we got married 4 months before he was born. From the birth I became suspicious and often remarked that 'I could not see me in him', unlike his brother, and she would say ' don't be silly, he is yours'. 5 years later we were divorced - it was most acrimonious - but the paternity issue was not raised because I was afraid that raising would affect him badly and I feared she would have prevented me from having contact.I made sure I kept in touch and thought he would be more understanding when he was settled. I broached the subject in 2018 after he had set up home with his daughter and her mother. He became abusive, threatened me with physical harm and told me to stay away from his family. I then decided to take the matter to court and was surprised when the judge said she could only invite him to take the test. The court took the view that," There is no legal requirement to order the Respondent to undergo the DNA test". and the case was closed. It seems that he is protecting his mother who misrepresented/lied when she wrote to the court claiming I was a vexatious litigant. They did not to attend any of the hearings. I believe that, in the circumstances, a father should be able to find out whom he has sired, with the blessings of the court; especially as the respondent has children who should know their line of ancestry and whether I am their grandfather. I need a lawyer who can agree to help me get to the truth. I am of the opinion that the establishment of the truth is a fundamental legal requirement that is enshrined in family law.
Deceived - 24-Jan-20 @ 12:54 AM
I am 55 years old and this year found out my dad isn't my biological father. Through some research I found out my mother was engaged to a different man before she married my "dad". My mom has been deceased nearly 9 years now and my "dad" has Alzheimer's Disease. I took a DNA test, opened an Ancestry account and sure enough the man my mother was with before my "dad" relatives show up as matches to me and the sister I grew up with shows as my half sibling. I reached out to said man and he was very receptive. Found him on Facebook and we messaged each other. We made plans to meet, but the day before we were to meet he had a stroke and his family will not let me see him whatsoever. This has been difficult as I found out he kept tabs on me for as long as he could and even tried to hint to me who he was. Do I have any rights to see him??
Beth - 31-Dec-19 @ 5:38 PM
My mum has always told me my father is Jeff beck the guitarist, I no longer have contact with my mum but can I find out if he is my father Apparently he sent her ha solicitor letter when she was pregnant saying he was married and wanted no more contact
Andy - 13-Nov-19 @ 5:29 PM
Hello I’m 20 and my father is refusing me a legal paternity test, could I know how to get him by law to carry one out? I’ve ask him so many times but off no avail on his part. I’m at university, my mom have had all the strains bringing up me and two other siblings. Plz can you direct me where to go and who to contact
Mom - 21-Oct-19 @ 8:35 AM
I am doubting if my father who stayed with me for 55 years is my real father. At 94 yrs old, my mom told me that it’s been bugging her for several years , because she’s not sure if the Native American and half Filipino guy is my real father or the Chinese guy who coincidentally became her boyfriend too-surprisingly, out of curiosity,my son had his DNA test and the result was 36% Chinese blood. How should I go about this, when the Chinese guy is already dead? How will I know if he is my real father or not?
Donn - 17-Oct-19 @ 11:43 AM
Long story short. It's been 27 years, and the father of my beautiful daughter is still denying he is her biological father. I am 100 % sure, without a doubt, he is her biological father. Over the course of the years I've reached out to him and his wife, and neither one of them are trying to hear what I have to say. Also over the course of the years, I found out he has a son 4 months younger than My daughter. So I know why he's being so adamant about my daughter not being his biological daughter. Most recently I've made contact with the son who's 4 months younger than my daughter and he is willing to do a siblings DNA test. I've read so much information about the test within the past 2 weeks, but I'm not sure if the results will be conclusive without DNA from the alleged father and his wife. Last week I paid to have a legal siblings DNA test done with my daughter, the son, and myself through DDC. My daughter and I were ready to head to the lab several days last week, but unfortunately the son was not able to go due to his work schedule. We are so anxious to have this test done, but our hands are really tied in this situation. I do know the paternity test is the most accurate test, but the alleged dad is not trying to give us his blood for a DNA test. Is there anyway you can help us in this situation? Signed,desperately seeking to get the truth out, so my daughter may have the opportunity to build a relationship with her half siblings if they choose to. I failed to mention I have a picture of the alleged father holding our daughter after she was born, and his name is on the birth certificate. I also still have emails he sent to her when our daughter was younger trying to explain to her the difficulties of the situation. Please can you help me in this situation?
Lil - 22-Sep-19 @ 10:31 AM
I had a few nights out a met a girl a few times. She is now saying I’m the father of her daughter. I am willing to do a DNA to determine as she had several partners at the time. I just want to know where I stand as a forced father. I do not wish or want to be a father. I have been forced in to this situation and now to pay for a child I did not want, do not know and never wish to know. Where do I stand?
Forcedfather - 2-Jul-19 @ 9:22 PM
My mother won't tell me my father's name,(Denis)? maybe? I know I have a step brother called Mark and she had affair! He died few years back.what are my rights I need to know who I am! I've never been told anything and its had big impact on my life.can I go to a solicitor? She knows his name.
Jules - 1-Jul-19 @ 10:00 PM
I hv a kid with a man who has lied about his name on the birth certificate and to me, he supports the child but not always how do i get the courts to force him to reveal his true identity so i can claim proper child maintenance
Confused. Com - 20-Jun-19 @ 9:15 PM
I want to know if i can force a father who rejected to do DNA through court after 21 years. And what will be the recourse since he was never there for me anyway Regards
Moss - 11-Apr-19 @ 3:57 PM
Hi, I recently discovered through a DNA test that my biological father is not who I thought it was, through 2 DNA companies I have found a man that I believe to be my biological father, unfortunately he is refusing all contact and will not do a DNA/Paternity test to verify, I have been told that I could use section 56 of the family law act to get him to do a test, where do I stand? is this correct?.
Jackie - 21-Mar-19 @ 2:07 PM
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