Who’s The Daddy?

Year Published: 2016

With ‘Bridget’s Jones’ Baby’ now showing at cinemas nationwide, many people may be left wondering what they could do if they found themselves in a similar situation to Bridget.

In the film, we see Bridget now over 40 and single again after many happy years with Mark Darcy. Following the breakdown of her relationship, Bridget chooses to concentrate on her career as a news reporter. This leads to her introduction to handsome American, Jack. Her love life is resurrected and things are going swimmingly for Bridget… until she discovers she is pregnant! But who is the father – Mark or Jack?

Claire Porter, Family Law Associate at SAS Daniels, Chester

Claire Porter, Family Law Associate

Paternity disputes

Many family lawyers in England and Wales find themselves advising clients on the issue of paternity. At SAS Daniels we provide advice to fathers wishing to establish the paternity of a child, as well as to mothers who do not know who the father is.  This could be due to multiple relationships or a chance meeting or liaison.

Where a dispute about paternity arises, the Courts in England and Wales are able to assist. The law states that “any person may apply to the High Court, a county court or a magistrates court for a declaration as to whether or not a person named in the application is or was the parents of another person so named”[1]. The Court, however, has no power to make orders in respect of a child “in vitro”. Bridget, Mark and Jack would therefore not be able to make an application until the baby has been born.

Jack, as an American, may have difficulty in pursuing such an application. The law requires that the person named in the application be domiciled in England and Wales.

Pursuing an application

Once an application has been issued, the Court can direct the parties and the child to submit to DNA testing. This will establish whether or not a party to the proceedings is the biological parent of that child. This involves the parties providing a saliva sample to be tested. The court will only appoint agencies accredited by the Ministry of Justice to undertake DNA testing. This makes it even more important that you obtain legal advice if you wish to pursue an application to determine paternity. The court will order DNA testing if it considers it is in the child’s best interest.

Declaration of Parentage

Once the test results are in, and the identity of the biological father has been identified, the court will make a Declaration of Parentage. They will inform the Register Office so that the child’s birth certificate can be re-registered to include the father’s details. If this happens, the father will not need to obtain a separate Parental Responsibility Order. Failing this a Parental Responsibility Order will need to be obtained.

I will be discussing the issue of Parental Responsibility in my October blog so please watch this space.

For further advice on paternity issues or any other family law matter, please contact Claire Porter in our Family Law team on 01244 305926.

[1] Section 55A Family Law Act 1986

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