Declarations of Parentage
What is a Declaration of Parentage?
A Declaration of Parentage is when the court decides who the father of a baby is.
If parents are not married, either at the beginning of the pregnancy or after the birth of their child, the father does not have the same legal rights and responsibilities that the mother automatically gains.
When couples separate, many men are left without legal rights in relation to their children, making it difficult for them to maintain contact and arrange visits.
An acknowledgement of parentage gives the father specific custodial rights, as well as a legal obligation to provide financial support for the child.
How is Paternity Established?
In order to establish paternity, fathers have two options: to settle the matter informally (outside of court) or to go through the courts.
Establishing paternity does not atomatically provide the father with legal rights such as: custody, contact or consent to medical treatment. This will need to be dealt with once the matter of paternity is resolved.
An application is usually made by the parent seeking to be added to the birth certificate. They would normally make such an application if they want to spend time with a child and share in the decision making of the child’s future.
Occasionally, an application is made by the other parent who is on the child’s birth certificate, this would normally be for reasons of child maintenance.
If the parents/parties are in disagreement then there will need to be a formal hearing, as in all other Children Act cases. The Judge will need to decide the facts and the outcome that is best for a child.
The Benefits of Establishing Paternity
Once paternity has been established, your child enjoys the same rights as a child born to married parents. These include:
- Legal proof of each parent’s identity;
- A full medical history (there may have been an inherited health problem); and,
- Financial support from both parents, including child support and the ability to inherit.
By signing the Acknowledgement of Parentage, both the mother and father acknowledge that the latter is the biological father of the child.
It also means that the father then becomes legally responsible for the child’s financial support, until the child reaches adulthood.
How to Establish Paternity Through Court
It might be that an application is made to the court for an acknowledgement of paternity, if a dispute of parentage has arisen.
A declaration of parentage has implications for a child’s rights and the child’s interests should be considered solely when making an application for this type of Order.
The court has the power to order that DNA testing be carried out. The judge will order the biological mother, father and the child to take paternity tests.
If the proposed father is proven to be the child’s biological father then the court can make an Acknowledgement of Paternity.
The court will then inform the Registry Office so that the child’s birth certificate can be re-registered, to include the father’s details.
Alternatively, the father can sign a Parental Responsibility Agreement/ Declaration of Parentage, in order to legally establish a parent-child relationship.
Whatever your query regarding Declarations of Parentage and your rights as the father of your child, the Family Law Team at Ashmans Solicitors are here to take your call. We specialise in all aspects of Family Law and children are our top priority. Gain peace of mind by letting us help you.
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