Understanding Paternity Testing In Alberta
While paternity disputes are age old, our scientific ability to resolve them is fairly recent. As technology advances facilitate the ease and convenience of conducting paternity testing. In addition, the Courts increasingly order paternity testing as a means of either confirming or disproving paternity. The results of a paternity test trigger a series of subsequent legal considerations. Due to the lasting financial, legal, social and emotional ramifications for the parties involved, lawyers often make such applications for their clients. Kahane Law Office’s Edmonton family law lawyers and our Calgary family law lawyers help with these order to determine the child’s dad.
Rules For Paternity Tests
The Family Law Act is the Alberta piece of legislation that outlines the process of who can ask for a “declaration of parentage’, who is ‘presumed to be a parent’ and what rights and responsibilities are triggered once a party is found to be a ‘parent’ of a child.
‘Presumed’ Biological Fathers’
Under the Family Law Act, defacto presumptions of parentage exist for a male that he is the father of a child in certain circumstances. For example, the allows for these presumptions, before paternity testing, if any of the following circumstances exist when the time of a child’s birth:
- Married to the mother at the date of birth or 300 days before the date of birth;
- He lived with the mother for 12 months around the date of birth and acknowledges parentage;
- Married to the mother after the date of birth and he acknowledges parentage;
- He lived with the mother within 300 days before the date of birth and acknowledges parentage; and lastly
- The birth certificate records him as the father of the child.
Paternity Testing When There Is More Than One ‘Presumed’ Father
If more than one male satisfy the circumstances set out for a presumption of being a father, the law presumes that neither is the father of the child. Our lawyers then make an application for paternity testing seeking a declaration of parentage to determine the father.
What If The Father Denies Paternity?
In Alberta, if a male denies fathering a specific child, then a party then files with the Courts an application seeking a declaration of parentage. Essentially, this application requests paternity testing of that potential father.
Declaration Of Parentage After Paternity Testing
In order to force paternity testing, lawyers apply to the Alberta Courts. A Declaration of Parentage is the application a party brings to order a party to undergo a paternity test. The Court allows the following parties to apply to the Court seeking to confirm or deny their own paternity, or the paternity of another for any child born in Alberta or the alleged parent resides in Alberta:
- any person claiming to be a parent of the child;
- a person claiming not to be a parent of the child;
- the known parent and / or guardian of the child;
- a person who has the care and control of the child;
- the child if over the age of 18; or lastly
- the child if under the age of 18 (through Child’s counsel or their guardian at the material time)
Upon satisfaction that a declaration of parentage is in the best interest of the child, the court orders permission to obtain DNA tests, blood tests or any other tests and requiring the submissions of the results to the Court as evidence.
Parties who Refuse Paternity Testing Or Fails To Comply With The Court Order
While the court orders an individual to submit to DNA testing as a means of confirming or denying paternity, no legal means exists for the court to force a party to produce their DNA for testing. The consent of the party from which the DNA sample is to be taken is required.
In order to avoid the child at the center of the paternity dispute from being deprived of their (potential) father’s support in situations where the party ordered to submit to testing refuses to provide their consent, the Court responded by ordering the potential father to pay support, until they submit to the testing and disprove their paternity. This approach shifts the onus to the party avoiding their potential responsibilities and ensures providing for the child as a result of a potential father’s delay or blameworthy conduct.
Fathers Who Suspect They Fathered A Child But The Mother Refuses To Acknowledge Paternity
If a mother denies that a male is the father of a child, he must file an application seeking a declaration of parentage that he is the father. Since control of his DNA rest with him, these paternity testing situations occur quicker and easier.
Biological Father Rights To A Child After Positive Paternity Testing
While paternity refers to the biological connection shared between a child and their parent, this biological relationship may, or does not automatically confer legal parental rights.
Once determined to be a parent, a parent has options. For example, these options include seeking:
- An order for Guardianship (decision making) and Parenting time;
- No order for parenting time or responsibilities; or lastly
- An order for Contact with the child (no decision making).
No Courts order parenting time or (non-financial) responsibilities upon a father with no desire for involvement in a child’s life.
Child Support Obligations After Positive Paternity Testing
Child support is a right of the child. Thus, the law requires payment by any parent of the child or a party standing in place of a parent. Once determined that a party is a parent, an automatic right exists for the primary caregiver of the child to seek child support for that child. A court typically only Orders child support payments after the primary caregiver of the child files an application asking for payment of support.
Time Limits On Applications For Parentage
What if the Child is older? What if the child believes someone else to be their father?
The Courts jurisdiction allows discretion when a party asks for a paternity test with an older child. This is very true with court decisions regarding whether or not to “reveal” paternity to an older child or a child with an established parent – child bond with another individual. Applications such as these, are strongly driven by the particular facts of each party’s matter, the court espouses a policy of transparency and disclosure.
In the 2018 decision JCC v NNC, 2018 ABCA, the court found that the law “social policy interests favour a process that reveals, rather than obscures, paternity……disruption to the child’s worldview must be balanced against the more rudimentary need for fathers to be accountable to their children for support, and for truth to prevail, as opposed to perpetuation of false belief. Answering the parentage question is a matter of justice…”
Adding The Father To The Birth Certificate After Confirmed Parentage
The Court grants an order for adding the father’s name to the child’s birth certificate. At the same time, the Court orders a declaration of parentage. However, this order occurs only if the parent requests it and such an order is in the child’s best interests. Our lawyers assist clients with this aspect of post paternity testing matters.
Help Getting An Order For Paternity Testing Or Adding The Dad’s Name
If you find yourself in or, potentially in a paternity dispute, call today. These matters include very serious long term implications. Our family law team helps you in these situations. Call today if you need more information. We have offices in both major centers in Alberta. Call our Calgary office at 403-225-8810 or if you live in the Edmonton area call us at (780) 571-8463. Alternatively, please email us for a faster connection .