Family court judges given power to order DNA tests

Published February 17, 2015 10:54

Source http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-31492078

JusticeFamily court judges in England will be able to order DNA tests to determine a child's parentage from September, Justice Minister Simon Hughes has said.

Mr Hughes said "unambiguous" DNA tests could "end acrimonious and embarrassing court battles".

The move follows two pilot schemes being trialled in Taunton and Bristol.

The pilots were set up after anecdotal evidence suggested courtroom arguments, particularly about parentage, caused delays in divorce cases.

Findings there suggested the tests would make judges more confident when making decisions about children, and parents were more likely to follow the court's orders.

Mr Hughes said: "I am determined that all cases involving children should be resolved quickly and wherever possible outside court.

"However when they do come to court they should be resolved in a civilised way so that children don't suffer."

Funding of between £500,000 and £1m a year will come from the budget of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service.

Liz Cowell, family lawyer at Slater and Gordon, said the tests would help in cases where mothers allege a father has no right to contact with a child because they are not the biological parent.

She added: "The change will also assist in cases where paying parents try to dodge supporting their children with claims that they are not the biological father."

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