Family and Children
In the case of Re F (children: declaration of parentage) , an appeal dealing with an order to defer a declaration of parentage was heard.
The appeal was made by the applicant – biological father of twins. The applicant wanted the twins to be informed of their paternity. This was strongly opposed by the mother of their children and their psychological father.
An order was made that the twins should be informed of whom their biological father was but the registration with the Registrar General would be deferred. Under the Family Law Act 1986, once a declaration of parentage is made the Registrar General is required to be notified within 21 days. The judge therefore deferred the registration for four months until the children had been informed. Matters were left this way until, a year later the judge was obliged to exercise his discretion in light of new developments. This justified an application for a variation of his earlier order that the children should be informed within a period of four months.
The applicant sought an order that the declaration should be perfected so that the children should be informed within a period of four months and that the declaration of his paternity should be sent to the Registrar General within 21 days in line with the newly introduced Family Procedure Rules 2010. The judge saw no reason to alter his position as he had done no more than defer the implementation of the order until the children themselves has been informed. The applicant appealed.
The appeal was allowed. The applicant had argued that the judge had confused the question of public record registration and the more difficult welfare issues regarding protecting the children from accidently discovering their true parentage. The order had been inappropriate as it set out to register a declaration of paternity at some point in the future. The appeal court ruled that once a declaration of paternity had been made it was there for all time.