Court to rule on the right to know of fatherhood

A Newcastle court could provide a landmark decision on the rights of fathers in a case to decide whether a man should be made aware of his 18-month-old son.

Under current laws unmarried fathers are not automatically conferred parental responsibility, the right to have a say in a child’s upbringing. An unmarried father can gain parental responsibility by being included on the birth register, through a written agreement between the parents or through a court. However, a father does not necessarily have the right to know of his child’s existence in the first place.

In the case soon to be ruled on at a hearing in the District Registry in Newcastle, it is to be decided whether the father of an 18-month-old boy should be made aware of the existence of his child against the wishes of the mother. The mother does not wish to care for the boy and his future is currently uncertain making it urgent to get a court ruling.

If it were decided that the father should know, a new benchmark could be set for the rights of fathers.

“If registered on the child’s birth certificate, unmarried fathers do automatically have parental responsibility,” says family solicitor Naim Qureshi of London law firm Child & Child. “This case could be a human rights issue under article 8, the right to respect family life.”

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