Court hearing begins into French MEP’s paternity claims

Family|Family Law|News|Relationships|November 5th 2012

A wealthy French businessman has denied fathering the daughter of French MEP Rachida Dati.

Dominique Desseigne, the owner of a casino and hotel group, has refused to take a paternity test to prove that he is not the father of three year-old Zohra, but his lawyers claim the former justice minister had as many as seven other lovers at the time the girl was conceived in 2008.

He is just one of many who had an “adventure” with Dati, Desseigne claimed to French newspaper Le Monde, saying he does not know the identify of Zohra’s father.

According to the report, Desseigne told friends: “I won’t give in on anything, because I have behaved correctly, and done nothing wrong.”

Forty-six year-old Dati has now filed a paternity suit against M. Desseigne, and a court hearing is scheduled to begin in Versailles today. Her evidence is reported to include sworn statements from her staff that the hotel tycoon made frequent visits to see Zohra.

Under English and Welsh law, Mme Dati would be able to apply for a declaration of parentage under section 55A of the Family Law Act 1986. The court would be entitled to make “adverse inferences” from his refusal to take a paternity test.

If declaration of parentage was granted, she would then be able to make an application for a financial settlement under Schedule 1 of the Children’s Act 1989. The payout could include the provision of a suitable home for mother and child for the duration of the child’s minority, contents, car,  and income provision for the child suitable for her as the daughter of a very wealthy man, including the cost of living, education, and potentially even a carer’s allowance for Ms Dati herself.

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