Declaration of Parentage
In English law, a Declaration of Parentage states that someone is the legal or biological parent of another person. In this article, Trainee Solicitor Megan Latschrauner explains what a declaration of parentage is and answers some frequently asked questions.
Table of Contents
- What is a Declaration of Parentage in the UK?
- Declaration of Parentage Case Law
- Does a Declaration of Parentage give Parental Responsibility?
- How do I get a Declaration of Parentage in the UK?
- Does the Court have to List a Hearing?
- Do I need a DNA test for a Declaration of Parentage?
- Do I need a Declaration of Parentage for Adoption?
- How long does an application take?
- Can I cancel or rescind a Declaration of Parentage?
- Your Local Family Solicitors
What is a Declaration of Parentage in the UK?
In England and Wales, a declaration of parentage is a legal document that declares a named individual as the legal parent of another person. The application for a declaration of parentage is made under Section 55A of the Family Law Act 1986.
A declaration of parentage means a birth certificate can be amended.
For example, by way of this application, a father can add his name to a child’s birth certificate following a declaration he is the father.
Alternatively, a name can be removed from the birth certificate of a child if an incorrect father was named on there.
If a declaration of parentage has been decided by the court and the applicant is declared to be the parent, they will not need to apply to add the father’s name to the birth certificate. The court will tell the General Register Office and the birth will be re- registered. You can find more information here.
You will need to order a new Birth Certificate if you want a copy of one.
Declaration of Parentage Case Law
There are a number of important cases which have shaped the way declaration of parentage cases are dealt with. Some are listed below.
In this case, Amy was an adult adoptee. She sought a declaration of parentage to confirm the identity of her biological father, who was now deceased. This was classed as an exempted case under S55A. Amy wanted her birth certificate amended for the purposes of obtaining Jamaican citizenship by descent. The court were satisfied on the balance of probabilities that there was sufficient evidence for the man Amy claimed to be her father to be declared as her father, and as such ordered the Court must make a declaration of parentage to that effect.
The court considered whether adults, adopted as children, could obtain Declaration of Parentage in relation to their biological fathers. The main issue in this case was that such a declaration had never been made in relation to a person who had been adopted before. The court considered whether this declaration would conflict with the adoption legislation.
The Judge found that the declarations would not extinguish the rights of the adoptive parents, but instead mean that their birth certificates could be amended to include their biological fathers’ names.
It was determined the court had jurisdiction to make a declaration of parentage under Section 55A(1) of the Family Law Act 1986 in respect of a child who had been adopted.
This case concerned a father who, during care proceedings in 2015, obtained a DNA test, which proved he was the biological parent of the child. At the time of the care proceedings, no application for a declaration of parentage was made. At a later point, the biological father did make a declaration of parentage to resume his role in the now adopted child’s life. The adoptive family did not object to the declaration, citing it would help the child understand her full life story.
The court did have jurisdiction to make a declaration in these circumstances. The Judge distinguished between a legal parent and a natural parent. The court considered factors including the effect of the application on the child, the child’s right to know, and the importance of the child knowing their parentage.
Does a Declaration of Parentage give Parental Responsibility?
No, a declaration of parentage will not automatically provide someone with parental responsibility.
Parental responsibility allows a parent to make incredibly important decisions about their child. A mother automatically obtains Parental Responsibility on the child’s birth. The father will have Parental Responsibility if he is named on the child’s birth certificate, or if he is married to the mother at birth.
You can also obtain Parental Responsibility by having a Child Arrangements Order for the child to live with you.
When a father acquires a positive declaration of parentage, he will not automatically acquire Parental Responsibility through the re-registration process.
Instead, he must either:
- apply for a Parental Responsibility order; or
- enter into a Parental Responsibility agreement with the child’s mother.
In order to obtain Parental Responsibility, you can make an application to the Court.
Further information on how to apply for parental responsibility or to sign a parental responsibility agreement is available here.
How do I get a Declaration of Parentage in the UK?
It is easy to obtain a declaration of parentage without the assistance of a lawyer, especially if both parties support the application.
However, if one party is opposed to the application, then this can be more complicated. You should seek independent legal advice.
Please contact our team of family solicitors if you require any assistance.
Which form do I need to fill in to ask the court for a Declaration of Parentage?
The form to complete to make an application for a Declaration of Parentage is the C63 form. This is available here.
The form is quite lengthy and provides a box where you can provide a summary as to why you are making an application.
If you need any help completing this form, please contact our team of family solicitors.
How much does a Declaration of Parentage cost?
In the UK, the court fee for a Declaration of Parentage application is £365.00.
However, those with low incomes or income-based benefits may benefit from an exemption using form EX160.
If you need further advice from a family solicitor to complete this form, we will make an additional charge. This will be in line with our hourly rates. You can find out more about our costs here.
Does the Court have to List a Hearing?
The Court should list a hearing, but the court can refuse to hear the full application if it does not feel that the Applicant has a sufficient personal interest.
The right to obtain a Declaration of Parentage is not automatic. This is not something that the courts will grant lightly.
Do I need a DNA test for a Declaration of Parentage?
The Family Court will order a DNA test if they see it necessary.
There are some situations where a DNA test may not be necessary. For example, where both parties agree the applicant is the biological parent. However, this varies in every circumstance.
If both parties agree to the paternity testing, then the test can be arranged voluntarily without the involvement of the court. There is a risk the Court might question where the DNA results came from, so make sure to use an accredited expert. For example: Cellmark, Lextox or DNA Legal. A list of Court Accredited DNA test providers is here.
If the parentage is not accepted by both parties, then the Court will need to obtain a DNA test result to confirm if the father is biologically the father before being able to make the declaration.
If the Court order a DNA test, the alleged father will need to book an appointment for a DNA sample to be taken. There will be a cost for this, as the DNA testing is done through an independent expert.
Do I need a Declaration of Parentage for Adoption?
No, you do not require a declaration of parentage for adoption.
After an Adoption Order is made, the Court will provide a copy to the General Register Office, who will then make an entry in the Adopted Children Register.
A new birth certificate, called an adoption certificate, is then produced which replaces the previous birth certificate.
How long does an application take?
Timescales for a Declaration of Parentage vary. Factors such as scheduling and awaiting DNA test results can cause delays. Undoubtedly, if there is dispute between the parties, this will cause additional delays until matters are resolved by the court.
There are also currently huge delays and backlogs within the court system.
Consequently, a benchmark figure could be 6-12 months.
Breaking down this timescale, on average, you could wait 12 weeks for a first hearing. If this is a contested application, the DNA test could take another 4 weeks. Additionally, if a CAFCASS report is required, this could take another 12 weeks. You will then be listed for a further hearing.
Can I cancel or rescind a Declaration of Parentage?
Where a DNA test proves that the man listed on a birth certificate is not the biological father of the child, [does it have to be a mother? I cannot see in the statute this is the case] can apply for a declaration of non-parentage under Section 55A of the Family Law Act 1986. This will confirm that the person named on the birth certificate is not the father of the child.
Once this declaration is made, the Court will notify the General Register Office and the birth certificate is re-registered. Then a replacement birth certificate will be issued with amended information on it. There will be a small note at the side saying when this was updated.
Consequently, the non-biological father will lose his Parental Responsibility rights.
Your Local Family Solicitors
We specialise in a range of family law and children matters, including declaration of parentage and parental responsibility.
Furthermore, we are the only family solicitors in Welwyn Garden City to be ranked in the prestigious Legal 500 guide. This positions us as one of the best Family Law Solicitors in Hertfordshire.
Get in Touch
Our specialist solicitors would be pleased to assist you with your Declaration of Parentage queries. Please contact our friendly Family Team on 01707 329 333 or email email@example.com for more information. We look forward to hearing from you.