For most people, knowing who their parents are is fundamental to their core sense of identity and emotional wellbeing. Khansa Taha looks at a case in which the High Court made that point in coming to the aid of a woman who was determined to put a name and a face to the father she never knew.
The woman was the child of a young, unmarried mother who later married and had further children. When she was a teenager, her mother informed her that her husband was not her biological father. Over the years, she asked her mother who her natural father was but was not provided with reliable information.
In her quest to find her father, she registered with ancestry websites and engaged a genealogist. She was eventually given the name of a man who, she was advised, was most likely to be her biological father. Only then did her mother confirm that she had a brief relationship with the man in the early 1970s.
After a number of attempts to contact him, his solicitors confirmed that there had been such a relationship. However, she was informed that he was unwilling to engage in any sort of social relationship with her. In those circumstances, she launched proceedings seeking a formal declaration of parentage.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Ruling on the case, the Court noted that the man had failed to comply with a judicial direction to provide samples for DNA testing that would have provided certainty. He took the view that he had been harassed by the woman and said that the steps she had taken to establish his paternity had caused a great deal of distress to him, his wife and his wider family. He urged that the woman should not be falsely encouraged to seek to pursue a personal relationship with him.
The Court acknowledged the strength of his views. However, the woman had given a compelling account of the emotional, psychological and social importance to her of confirming the identity of her biological father. Her entitlement to establish her core identity was an important element of her fundamental human right to respect for her private and family life.
In granting the declaration sought, the Court noted that the woman had provided a reasoned evidential foundation for a finding that the man was more likely than not to be her biological father. He had not formally opposed her application and the Court inferred from his failure to provide DNA samples that he was intent on hiding the truth of his paternity.
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