December 12, 2016
In many cases parents do not give due attention to the record in the child’s birth registry about the father of the child, which in return may cause many difficulties and lengthy court proceedings. In this article, attention will be given to the main problems, which so often surround the issue of paternity determination and contesting of paternity.
According to Section 146 of the Latvian Civil Law, as the father of the child who is born to a woman during marriage or not later than 306 days thereafter if the marriage has ended due to the death of the husband, the dissolution of the marriage, or the declaration of the marriage as annulled, shall be considered to be the husband of the mother of the child (Paternity Presumption). This means that a person may be automatically recorded as the father, if the child was born during marriage of that person with the child’s mother or within 306 days after that person has, for instance, divorced the child’s mother. Therefore, incorrect is the belief that divorcing (before the birth of the child) a person, who is not biological father of the child, would resolve the issue of recording that person as the father of the child - the record can still be made, unless the mother of the child enters into a new marriage.
Once a person has been registered as the father of the child in accordance with the Paternity Presumption, the wrong record can be rectified either voluntarily or it can be contested through the court. Voluntary rectification will require all the persons involved, namely, the person who is registered as the father, the mother of the child and the biological father of the child, to submit application to the civil registry office admitting that the record is wrong. If any of the said persons does not agree to submit such an application, the only remaining option for the interested person is to contest the Paternity Presumption in the court.
In this regard, it shall be noted that a person, who has been registered as the father, but in fact is not the biological father of that child, may raise a claim in the court for contesting the Paternity Presumption only within 2 years after he has become aware of the fact that he is not the biological father.
Acknowledgement of Paternity
In some other cases, where a couple is not married, the record about the father of the child can be recorded with the civil registry office upon the application of the father and the mother for the voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. By submitting such an application, a person acknowledges that he is the father of the child. In practice, it may happen that a person, which acknowledged himself as the father, in real life is not the biological father of the child. It shall be noted that Acknowledgement of Paternity can only be contested in the court and only in the event the person who admitted himself as the father, did so by mistake or under duress. Such a claim shall be raised within 2 years after the person has become aware of the fact which excludes the paternity. If the person who knew that he is not the biological father of the child nevertheless acknowledges the paternity in the above manner, then it can no longer be contested at all.
Determination of Paternity
Quite often the record about the child’s father is missing at all. In some cases the record is left blanc because the child was not born in a marriage and the father refused to submit the application for acknowledgement of paternity, but very often the record is also left blank by the mother intentionally for some personal reasons. Be it as it may, the record about one’s father is of significant importance for many issues such as, for example, claiming child maintenance, proving filiation in succession matters, etc. Therefore, it is in the interests of the child not to leave blank the record about the father. If the biological father refuses to acknowledge paternity voluntarily, the mother may raise a claim in the court to determine the paternity. According to the law, the paternity can be proved by any available means and not necessarily only through a DNA test.