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Declaration of Parentage: Will This Rectify My Birth Certificate?

13 May 2024

Why might I need to rectify my birth certificate?

There are a range of reasons why you might want or need to rectify your birth certificate, including:

  • To correct or complete birth records (e.g. mother’s or father’s details are incorrect and/or require rectification/removal).
  • Add an absent parent’s details (e.g. following a DNA test or admission by a family member).
  • Record a deceased parent’s name on a birth certificate.
  • Re-register a birth certificate following adoption to record a birth parent.
  • Following assisted conception where issues have arisen about the birth certificate/legal/biological parentage of a non-birth parent (e.g. errors or missing HFEA consent forms. gamete/embryo mix-up, fertility fraud, legal status following private conception).

Having a correct birth certificate is important because it has significant legal, practical, financial and emotional implications for individuals, parents, children and families, including governing and/or informing:

  • An individual’s personal identity, health, history and ancestry.
  • Relationships with genetic and legal relatives.
  • An application for citizenship/passport.
  • An inheritance claim.
  • A financial claim for a child.

Cases involving enquiries about birth/biological parents and decisions to rectify a birth certificate often require a great deal of care and consideration. They can upend established family history and introduce unexpected narratives about unplanned pregnancy, love affairs, failed relationships, incest, adoption, loss and death. They can uncover fertility fraud or even egg, sperm or embryo mix-ups at fertility clinics. They can also create complex issues with genetic relatives and legal family members, intermingled with complex emotional dynamics (shock, anger, shame, grief, fear, rejection, happiness and acceptance).

Will a Declaration of Parentage rectify my birth certificate?

A Declaration of Parentage by the English Family Court will confirm that a specified person is (or is not) a biological or legal parent of an individual, leading to the rectification/re-registration of that individual’s birth certificate by the General Register Office.

What is the process for a Declaration of Parentage?

A Declaration of Parentage application is governed by s55A of the Family Law Act 1986. The application is made in the English Family Court by completing and lodging a C63 Court Form together with the relevant court fee (currently £365.00). Every case is different and will be considered on its own merits.

There are no age limits for a Declaration of Parentage. As such, an application can be made at any time (involving children and adults), provided there is sufficient personal interest and connection to England and Wales together with an appropriate legal and evidential basis. The application will usually include a case management hearing (more than one may be required) where the English Family Court will make directions to progress the application and then a final hearing to determine the outcome. The court process can take 6 – 12 months (although timescales vary depending upon the complexity of the case and court availability).

Do I need a DNA Test to get a Declaration of Parentage?

DNA evidence can be helpful to support an application for a Declaration of Parentage, although it is not always required depending upon the overall circumstances of the case.

DNA testing can also raise a number of issues depending upon the nature, basis and quality of the testing undertaken (ancestry testing, paternity testing, extended family testing).

The English Family Court can make a direction for legally approved DNA testing within court proceedings, but it cannot compel a party to undergo a DNA test. The court can, however, draw inferences if a party refuses to comply with a direction for DNA testing in determining the case.

You can read more here about DNA testing within proceedings for an Application for a Declaration of Parentage in the case of  X v Y [2022] EWFC 77 – in which Louisa Ghevaert Associates successfully acted for the applicant.

Fertility and Family Law

Find out more about our specialist expertise concerning legal parentage and parenthood and applications for a Declaration of Parentage in the English Family Court.

Do you need help resolving your personal identity, your biological or legal parentage or your birth certificate? Do you need assistance navigating your family ancestry or your genetic/adopted/donor conceived origins or the results of a direct-to-consumer DNA test? If you would like to discuss your situation or you need specialist legal parenthood, fertility and family law advice contact Louisa Ghevaert by email or by telephone +44 (0)20 7965 8399.

Louisa Ghevaert

Images: Louisa Ghevaert, CEO & Founder of Louisa Ghevaert Associates

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