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Family Law

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20 OCT 2006

PATERNITY: Re D [2006] EWHC 3545 (Fam)

(Family Division; Hedley J; 20 October 2006)

The child had been placed with the woman believed to be his paternal grandmother as a baby; he had occasional contact with the man believed to be his father but relied on the grandmother figure for parenting. His childhood had been a troubled one; he had a number of educational and behavioural problems. During a visit to the child on the child's 10th birthday, the man claiming paternity had announced that he was the child's real father. The child's adamant response was that he wanted nothing to do with the man, that the man was not his father, and that he would not participate in scientific testing.

Although the child was not competent in the Gillick sense, he did understand the essence of the issue between the adults, what testing meant and what its conclusions might be; his strong opposition was his own, and the whole issue of paternity was a big issue at a highly emotive stage of his life. It was in the child's best interests to know the truth sooner rather than later, but not in his best interest to press the issue now, given his other issues and his deep resistance to testing. The court directed that the man provide samples to be stored, and an order under Family Law Reform Act 1969, s 20(1) directing that a sample be taken from the child, stayed without limit of time but with liberty to restore. As the obtaining of such a sample was strongly in the long-term interests of the child this approach had the effect of securing fairness to the man whilst protecting the position of the child in terms of removing pressure from him at the present time. The guardian was to see the child, and explain that the issue of paternity should not be indefinitely put off, and that in the end truth was easier to live with than doubt.

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