Yesterday I was asked to comment on the case of Sarah Dixon, from Salford, Manchester who lost her partner and father to her daughter Shenayah in a tragic car crash on last night’s BBC North West Tonight programme.
Sadly, her partner was killed just days before they were due to register Shenayah’s name on the birth register. Sarah was informed she would not be able to put her partner’s name on her daughter’s birth certificate.
The case highlights the outdated nature and process of the law, which requires that unmarried parents must both be present to sign their child’s birth register. Sarah was told she would have to pay for DNA testing to prove that her partner was Shenayah’s Father in order to have his name put on her daughter’s birth certificate which will cost her family a £4,000 in addition to the additional stress and grief they are currently experiencing.
The whole process desperately needs reviewing. Society has moved on considerably since this law was passed, and at a time when Sarah is going through the additional trauma of losing her Partner and Father to her daughter significant changes must be made to this out dated legislation.
It is vital to a child’s well-being that they have a link with both of their natural parents. The parent child relationship is perhaps the strongest social tie established within our society, and where a parent is deceased the legal process should work with the family to ensure this connection is preserved in a more streamlined way.
Having previously acted on behalf of Children whose unfortunate circumstances mirror that Sheyanah’s the challenges that are created by the present legal process are hardly a new problem. Thankfully, Sarah’s case has raised public awareness of the current difficulties within the existing legal process. Hopefully appropriate steps can be taken to reform legislation in keeping with the society we live in.