declaration of parentage

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A declaration by a court under the Family Law Act 1986 as to whether a named person is or was the parent of another person. Normally the court will only hear an application where the applicant has a sufficient personal interest in the outcome of the case. The most effective way of determining paternity is through the use of scientific tests (e.g. blood tests or now, more commonly, DNA tests). The court has a general power to order such tests, but may not order an adult to undergo them without that party's consent. However a refusal may lead the court to draw adverse inferences (e.g. that a particular man is the father of the child). A “bodily sample” may be taken from a child under the age of 16 where (a) the person with care and control of the child consents or (b) the court considers that a test would be in the best interests of the child. The courts generally do order tests, taking the view that in most cases the interest of the child will be best served by knowing the truth (Re F (A Minor: Paternity test) [1993] 1 FLR 598 (CA); Re H (Paternity: Blood test) [1996] 2 FLR 65 (CA); Re K (Specific issue order) [1999] 2 FLR 280; Re T (Paternity: ordering blood tests) [2001] 2 FLR 1190). A similar declaration of parentage can be made under the Child Support Act 1991 (see child support maintenance).

Subjects: Law.

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