Father wins in landmark DNA ruling
A Wellington man has won a landmark Court of Appeal case to prove he is the father of a child he has not seen for five years.
It took a $50,000 legal battle for the man to have the girl’s DNA tested, after the child’s mother – who denied the man was the father – appealed against a High Court order to test the child.
The Court of Appeal upheld the order, establishing a precedent that courts could force mothers to test their children when it was in the child’s best interests.
Previously, the courts could recommend the tests, but had no powers of enforcement. But the case established that guardianship of the child could be assigned to the courts for a few hours while DNA samples were taken, then transferred back to the custodial parent.
The Star-Times reported in January that hundreds of Kiwi men were having secret, mail-order paternity tests in Australia because of suspicions they were not the real father of their children. They could not have the tests in New Zealand without the mother’s consent. In 30% of cases, the result was a mismatch.
DNA Diagnostics spokeswoman Kate Hurford said business from New Zealand had more than doubled since the article, with 30-35 Kiwi men tested a month.