From September 2015 family court judges in England and Wales will be able to request and pay the costs of DNA tests to ascertain a child’s parentage. The introduction of the extended powers comes following the success of a pilot scheme trialled in Taunton and Bristol following anecdotal evidence that courtroom arguments led to delays in divorce and children cases.
Results collated from the pilots suggest that judges will feel more confident when making decisions regarding a child’s welfare by resolving any issue of doubt where the question of the child’s parentage is used against a parent in court. Findings also revealed that parents were more likely to follow the court’s orders following the use of a DNA test, as they were unable to dispute the evidence presented before them.
Justice Minister Simon Hughes believes allowing judges further powers could “end acrimonious and embarrassing court battles” where disputes over the child’s parentage arise. It is believed the introduction of DNA tests will be felt most prominently in areas of child law where parents try to avoid paying child support by claiming they are not the biological father. Likewise, it will also resolve disputes where the mothers allege the father has no legal right to be involved in the child’s life as he is not the biological parent.
The scheme will be funded from the budget set aside for the Children and Family Court Advisory Service costing an estimated £500,000 and £1m each year. Similar schemes regarding funding alcohol and drug testing in establishing a parent’s suitability to look after children are also being explored, with Cafcass set to investigate the issue further.
As always, with all family law matters involving children the aim is to resolve cases swiftly and efficiently, causing minimal distress to all parties involved. The welfare of the child should always be at the forefront of decisions, with their needs forming the foundation upon which agreements should be built. Protecting child from the conflict of warring parents and extensive court battles is paramount, and the introduction of the latest reform appears to be tackling this issue reducing the time of the average court case to 29 weeks.
Here at Farleys Solicitors are dedicated Family Law department specialise in all matters involving child law. Many of our solicitors are members of the Resolution and committed to resolving family law matters Resolution and committed to resolving disputes in a constructive, non-confrontational manner. For further information or advice regarding separation, or child arrangement agreements please don’t hesitate to contact us on 0845 050 1958, or email us today. Alternatively we also run a free family law clinic each Thursday at our Burnley and Blackburn offices, for further details click here.