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Children & Divorce

DNA testing within divorce proceedings 

The Ministry of Justice has kicked off this year with significant changes to family law cases. Family courts in England and Wales will soon have funding to carry out DNA testing in private family law cases giving courts the power to determine parentage in acrimonious divorce proceedings.The Ministry of Justice has hailed the changes as ‘the biggest reforms to the family justice system for a generation’ and between £500,000 and £1 million per year will come from the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service to pay for the tests to assist with significant delays caused by issues of parentage.

The move is highly significant for divorce proceedings which have become arduous and stagnated. The recent cuts to legal aid in 2013 meant that there was no financial assistance available to parties who sought DNA testing, this of course led to prolonged court cases for parents going through legal proceedings such as divorces who were unable to pay for legal fees.

Of course anyone would agree that it is vital that all cases involving children are resolved as quickly as possible and of course wherever possible outside of the court room – however, if the court process is unavoidable, it should always be that court proceedings are expedited with cases involving children. Unfortunately, the common problem with issues of determining parentage is that inevitably it is the children who suffer.

The reforms which have placed children at the heart of legal matters, have introduced a new simpler system. The DNA tests will of course assist those in divorce proceedings where the mother denies the father contact rights due to assertions that they are not the child’s biological father; similarly the change will assist where parents who are obliged to pay for their child are not doing so as they allege that they are not the biological parent.  

If you are going through a divorce and have any issues regarding parentage speak to one of our advisors who will be able to discuss matters with you in detail.

Simone Barton

Trainee Solicitor