Family Law Hub

Paternity

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  • The husband and wife were the children of extremely wealthy Indian families. Following the breakdown of the marriage the husband had discovered that he was not the biological father of their child and issued proceedings for the tort of deceit against the mother. Cohen J noted that he knew of no other case where the breakdown of a marriage had engendered litigation on the scale witnessed in this case. In this hearing he had to deal with issues including the assessment of the assets, in terms of value, origin and ownership and whether they were subject to a family arrangement or clawback, minority discounts, the movement of resources, tax, pre-acquired wealth, and other assets for which there was inadequate information. In Cohen J's judgment the wife's conduct was so egregious that it would be inequitable to disregard it, but to reflect emotional damage in financial terms would be like comparing apples and pears. Cohen J had also found that the husband's disclosure had been seriously deficient: to reduce the wife's award by giving her a lower percentage of the disclosed assets would be to inflict a double jeopardy. Cohen's J's conclusion was that the matrimonial assets to which the husband could have immediate recourse in terms of ownership were £117m. The wife's assets were calculated at less than £1m. The matrimonial home would be transferred free of charge to the wife. The wife's needs, including the value of the matrimonial home, were found to total £41,046,388. Judgment, 01/05/2020, free
  • The wife applied to strike out the husband's claim for damages in respect of deceit. A DNA test had revealed that he was not the biological father of their child. Two issues were before Cohen J: whether the tort of deceit could relate to paternity fraud between husband and wife, and, if it could, whether it could run as a separate cause of action in parallel with financial remedy proceedings, rather than being an abuse or obstruction of the court's process. As to the former, Cohen J's view was that the tort of deceit could exist between husband and wife in respect of intimate matters, but he did not need to make a concluded finding on this issue. By reference to CPR 3.4(2)(a) and (b) he found that the claim form and particulars of claim disclosed no reasonable grounds for bringing the claim, and were indeed an abuse of the court's process or otherwise likely to obstruct the just disposal of the proceedings. The claim was struck out. Judgment, 30/11/2019, free
  • The wife applied to strike out the husband's claim for damages in respect of deceit. She had misled him into thinking that he was the biological father of their child. Cohen J's view was that the tort of deceit could exist between husband and wife, but he did not make a concluded finding on that issue. He was of the clear view that there were no reasonable grounds for bringing the claim, and, given that financial remedy proceedings were ongoing, it was an abuse of the court's process. The deceit proceedings were struck out. Judgment, 30/10/2019, free
  • The questions were whether a child should be told of his biological father, whether the husband (the psychological father) should be allowed to take the child on holiday to France, and what directions should be given relating to a deceit claim. The mother did not want the child to be told, and the biological father denied his paternity. Cohen J decided that the child should be told when an independent social worker, agreed upon by the parents, thought the time was right. He refused permission for the holiday, not being confident that the child's return could be achieved if the husband took him to the UAE. Cohen J allowed the mother's application to strike out the deceit claim to proceed to a hearing. Judgment, 18/08/2019, free
  • Application by biological father of the child for a declaration of parentage under Section 55A of the Family Law Act 1986 after the psychological mother (who had no genetic or gestational connection with the child) unlawfully removed the child to Bulgaria. The application was successful. Judgment, 10/12/2018, free

Latest know-how

  • In a tweet: Inherent jurisdiction extends to direct DNA test to establish paternity in inheritance dispute Case note, 11/04/2018, members only
  • In a tweet: DNA testing resolves Scottish baronetcy succession dispute Case note, 21/09/2016, members only
  • The claimant was seeking damages in deceit against the defendant after the claimant claimed that a child born during their marriage was not his child. Case note, 23/07/2015, members only
  • The biological father of the child, who had 2 mothers, was seeking contact. Case note, 11/03/2014, free
  • Proceedings concerning the legal parentage of a child where Ms M claimed that he had been conceived through sexual intercourse and Mr F, a sperm donor who Ms M met via the internet and who was the biological father of the child, said conception was as a result of artificial insemination. If conception was through sexual intercourse, Mr F would be the legal parent but if it was the result of artificial insemination the question of parentage would depend on the effect of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008. Case note, 20/08/2013, members only

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