A recent Court of Appeal case dealt with the delicate question of whether or not the court had the right to inform children of the truth regarding their paternity. The case arose because DNA test results showed that the natural father of twins was not the man their mother lived with. She had lived with her current partner for several years and had another child of which he was the father. As far as the twins were aware, their mother’s partner was their father.
The natural father of the twins applied for a declaration of paternity and a contact order so that he could see them. Their mother opposed this and contended that the decision as to whether the children should be told the truth about their paternity should be a matter for the parents to decide. As the twins are now eight years old, she felt that it would be disruptive for them to be told the truth.
When the lower court ruled that the declaration of paternity and a contact order should be made, the mother appealed on the basis that the decision to inform the children was not within the jurisdiction of the court. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal.
The practical implications are that in similar circumstances, obtaining proof of paternity through DNA testing may well lead to this type of outcome. There may be some cases where it might well be preferable for the proof of paternity not to be obtained. Regardless of the financial arrangements made, once the true paternity is indisputable, the absent father may decide to try to become involved with his children.