DNA proved child wasn't mine but...

All Woman

DEAR MRS MACAULAY,
I was in a relationship sometime ago that produced a male child. I was summoned to court and requested a DNA test and it turned out that the child was not mine. The mother has now got married and her husband is in the process of filing for her and the child. She is asking me to sign the immigration documents as the child's father because my name is still on the birth certificate. Are there any legal implications for me should I sign?

In this case, upon learning that you were not the father, consequential court orders ought to have been made for your name to be removed from the child's birth records by the Registrar General, and for the mother to take into the Registrar General's Department the child's birth certificate, so that after the expunging of your name from the records a new and correct certificate could be issued for the child.

If the mother of the child, at the time of reporting the birth of her child to the registrar at the hospital, in naming you as the father knew that this was false, or that she did not reasonably believe it to be true, she would have committed an offence under section 19B(3)(a) of the Registration (Births and Deaths) Act.

You should have asked the clerk of court after the court proceedings ended in your favour for a certified copy of the court order (I would in fact have suggested that you get two such copies) — so that after you delivered one to the registrar you could have one for your records if you needed further proof of the court's finding and orders at a future date.

You say that the mother married and that her husband is in the process of filing for her and her child and she has asked you to sign the immigration documents as the child's father because neither of you had done what you should have done to get your name off the birth records and certificate of the child. If you both did not know what to do after the judge was satisfied that you were falsely or incorrectly named and made the requisite declaration and orders, the judge or the clerk of the court would have explained and advised you both. They are generally very helpful in this regard and I am rather surprised that you are still the father named on the certificate. You both must have been told what to do then and there but failed to do what you were told!

You cannot do what the mother is asking, because you would knowingly be perpetuating a falsity. Some of the documents may have to be signed before a Notary Public and this would mean that you would be making false statements on oath, knowing them to be false, and the false statements would not merely refer to the identification of yourself as father, but to other facts which would all have to be made up. In doing so, you would be committing, and the mother too, an offence by making false statements on oath. You would be committing perjury.

Surely you know what is true and what is false. The mother does not seem to be bothered about you and her making false statements. She had done so before and got you registered as her child's father; do not emulate her wrongful conduct.

What she must do is go to the court and apply for and obtain certified copies of the declaration of the fact that you are not the child's father and with the consequential orders made, go with one of the copies to the Registrar General's Department and get the birth records rectified and a new birth certificate issued. Think of the consequences — if you both get away with your false signing as his father and you die and she presents his birth certificate in proof of your fatherhood to claim for her child a share of your estate, could anyone prove it to be false when you have no certified court order among your papers? And in addition to the certificate would be the fact of your signing as his father for his immigration. You cannot and must not do it!

Please do what I have suggested and get certified copies from the court (Family Court, I assume) where her application was filed and dealt with and go and get the birth records rectified by having your name expunged as the child's father and a new birth certificate issued. She can pay for expedited action by the Registrar General's Department. This mother cannot be allowed to perpetuate such a grievous falsity and put you in the position of committing an offence.

By the way, if the court did not make the declaration and consequential orders and merely dismissed her application (which I doubt they did) you can and must apply for them and then proceed accordingly, if she refuses to do so.

I hope you understand what an invidious position you were put in and kept in until now. Make sure you are taken out of it now without you committing an offence.

Good luck.

Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public, and women's and children's rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to allwoman@jamaicaobserver.com; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.

DISCLAIMER:

The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, and must not be relied upon as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.

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