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DNA Tests To Be Introduced In Parentage Disputes

Judges To Be Given Power To Order Tests To Avoid Delays From Courtroom Arguments


All family court judges in England will be given the power to order DNA parentage tests from September, at public expense, following two successful pilot schemes.

The trials in Taunton and Bristol were set up following anecdotal evidence that family cases involving children were delayed by courtroom arguments, particularly where parentage was in question.

Findings suggest that using DNA tests quickly means judges can be more confident in making decisions, and parents are more likely to follow the court's orders.

Funding for the tests will come from the budget of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, known as CAFCASS, with between £500,000 and £1 million allocated a year.

Announcing the move, Justice Minister Simon Hughes said: "I am determined that all cases involving children should be resolved quickly and wherever possible outside court.

"However when they do come to court they should be resolved in a civilised way so that children don't suffer. Unambiguous and conclusive DNA tests will prove parentage and help to end acrimonious and embarrassing court battles."

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