Concerns about paternity of unborn child & registering the birth

Published: March 30th, 2023

7 min read

Can you apply to the court before the birth of a child if you have concerns over paternity?

In the event that a relationship has broken down, or where there are doubts regarding the paternity of an unborn child, it is not unusual for the potential father to consider making an application to court before the child is born.

They may wish to deal with the issue of paternity (such as obtaining an order that a DNA test is carried out), ensuring that their name is included on the child's birth certificate, or wanting to deal with the issue of spending time with their child once they are born.

However, the current law does not allow for an application to be made before a child is born.

This does not mean, however, that a potential father must wait until after the child is born to start preparing for the application to be made. It is advisable to seek legal advice regarding the options available, as soon as you become aware of any potential issues.

If appropriate, your solicitor could draft the necessary applications, ready to issue immediately upon becoming aware of the birth of the child. If there are disputes regarding the paternity of the child, this would also include an application for permission from the court to start the proceedings, as only someone who holds parental responsibility can make an application to court under the Children Act 1989 without permission. A father holds parental responsibility for a child, either by being named on the birth certificate, being married to the mother at the time of the child's birth or by Order of the court.

It is possible to request an urgent hearing to deal with the issue, especially if there are disputes regarding the paternity, or concerns that the child's birth may be registered without your details as the child's father.

The court has the power to direct that a DNA test is carried out, they can make a declaration of parentage confirming that you are the father, and this would allow you to register yourself as the child's father on their birth certificate. This would in turn mean that you hold parental responsibility for the child, and from there, consideration can be given as to what time you should be spending with your child.

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