Judge delays paternity hearing for more information

Family|Family Law|News|April 11th 2013

Newcastle Upon TyneHigh Court judge Mr Justice Holman has adjourned a paternity hearing after finding the evidence from a DNA test too vague for legal purposes.

In the recently published case, a man called David Elliott had gone to court seeking a legal declaration of parentage under  Section 55A of the Family Law Act 1986.

This states that, subject to certain conditions:

“…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 parent of another person so named.”

After a relationship in 1988 with the mother of a boy now aged almost 24, Mr Elliott paid thousands of pounds to the Child Support Agency (CSA), despite doubting, he claimed, that he was really the father.

Then in September last year, he applied for the declaration and District Judge Loomba ordered DNA tests, as set out in the Family Law Reform Act 1969. These were to be carried out by DNA testing firm Dadcheck.

The results indicated that Mr Elliott was not the father. He wanted, therefore, to recover all the money he had paid to the CSA.

But, sitting at Newcastle County Court, Mr Justice Holman said he said he not received sufficient information on the specifics of the testing process, or how Mr Elliott, the mother and her son had had their identities verified.

The judge stressed that he did not “in any way doubt the reliability of the scientific testing or analysis performed by Dadcheck.com.”

But he noted that:

“A declaration of parentage under section 55A of the 1986 Act is a solemn legal act, which remains binding and operative for all time and all purposes…as to the parentage of the person concerned.”

Therefore the language used in the material presented by Dadcheck was simply too vague, said the judge.

“…there is not currently sufficient material before the court for me to be satisfied to the standard required that the samples that were actually tested by Dadcheck are samples from each of the respective named people.”

He ordered Dadcheck to provide “further and more specific information” at a subsequent hearing before another judge.

Photo of Newcastle upon Tyne by Rob Bishop via Wikipedia under a Creative Commons licence

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