Law Commission report about laws on parenthood
Press release by Hon Marian Hobbs:
Parenthood report tackles complex issues
A Law Commission report tackles complex questions about laws on parenthood, the Minister responsible for the Law Commission, Marian Hobbs, said today after the tabling of the report in Parliament.
The report, New Issues in Legal Parenthood, is a comprehensive review of the laws on parenthood.
“It is important that these laws are reviewed periodically to ensure they keep pace with technology and social change,” the minister added.
Some of the issues dealt with in the report originated from policy work on the Care of Children Act 2004 and Human Assisted Reproductive Technology Act 2004.
Those acts raised the profile of the importance of children having clear rules about who are their parents and who has legal responsibility for them.
“The report grapples with some difficult issues,” Marian Hobbs said. “For example, should the Courts have the power to force a child or adult to provide a bodily sample for the purpose of parentage testing using DNA profiling? Should children have more than two legal parents? These are complex questions and will require a considered response from the government.”
Because recommendations in the report propose amendments to various acts, several ministries will be directly involved in preparing the government response to the Law Commission’s report. That response is required to be presented to Parliament in October 2005.
END of the Minister’s Press Release.
Download the report here:
NZLC R88 New Issues in Legal Parenthood [1,240KB pdf]
A few excerpts from the report:
2.7 In fathers’ groups where the men were legal parents but had grievances about their inability to continue effective parenting upon separation, genetics was very important and they considered the fact of a genetic link should elevate their status above that of a step-parent. Another view held by others representing fathers’ interests, however, was that social parenthood and not genetic parenthood should determine parental .financial liability.
4.15 However, a distinction between a man in an ongoing relationship with the mother and a man not in such a relationship should be continued. It would be both unreliable and unsatisfactory to enable a father to be named in the birth details on the word of either the mother or any man who claims to have had sexual relations with her around the time the child was conceived.
4.17 There is now much discussion of wrongly attributed paternity in the Western world and there are frequent estimates in the media of the numbers of children whose legal fathers are not their genetic fathers. Alleged rates range from 1 per cent to over 30 per cent, with 9 or 10 per cent being commonly cited. The speculation has been heightened by high profile cases of paternity fraud, which have been reported in the media in recent years. However, hard data to back up claims as to what the rate is are much harder to come by.90 There is no New Zealand research on this matter.
4.23 Some of those representing fathers’ groups suggested that there should be mandatory
genetic testing at birth for every child as this would allow men to accurately establish whether they fathered the child as the mother alleged. Should the tests disprove paternity, the man in question could then make an informed decision as to whether to support the child.