When issues around child support are normally discussed, it’s in a situation where both of the parents acknowledge that they are the parents of the child or children in question. However, sometimes that’s not the case. In a recent decision from the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, the court was tasked with deciding whether a man should be ordered to take a DNA test to determine if he is the father of a 14-year-old child who already legally had a father.
The parties were identified as TAM (the mother) and MOG (the man). They both acknowledged having a sexual encounter about 8 or 9 months before the child was born. At the time TAM was in volved in a relationship with another man, AV, though their relationship was on a break at the time her and MOG were together.
When TAM found out she was pregnant, she told MOG she did not know who the father was, but later said she found out it was AV. With that news, MOG said he was not going to be involved in the child’s life. AV signed the birth certificate, confirming he was the child’s father.
TAM and AV were married in 2010 but separated after seven years. During this time, TAM started reaching out to MOG’s extended family, stating she wanted to determine if he was the child’s father. She eventually began the process of seeking child support from MOG. However, before that could proceed, she had to pursue a declaration of parentage. MOG’s lawyer was eventually provided with DNA test results that purported to show AV was not the child’s father. However, MOG said that the document could not be trusted because TAM had a criminal conviction for “uttering a forged document.”
Alberta’s Family Law Act states that individuals can apply for a declaration of parentage “if there is a dispute or any uncertainty as to whether a person is or is not a parent of the child.” The court noted that the use of the term “any uncertainty” sets a low bar for commencing an application.
However, the Act also states that a male person is presumed to be the biological father if he married the birth mother and acknowledged he is the father, registered himself as the father, or has been found by a court to be the father. MOG argued that AV needed to rebut this presumption before he is forced to provide DNA.
The court did not agree, citing the Act again, which states that DNA testing can be ordered by the court if it considers it appropriate to do so. In this case, there was some uncertainty about who the child’s father is, which meets the threshold established in the Act. As a result, the court ordered MOG to submit to a DNA test and provide a genetic sample within 30 days.
Separation, divorce, and other family disputes are generally stressful and emotional. If you are contemplating a separation or divorce, your best short-term plan is to contact an experienced family lawyer immediately to understand your options, and to formulate a strategy for moving forward. Contact the knowledgeable, effective, and compassionate family lawyer at NULaw online or at 416-481-5604 to book a consultation.