Posted by Patrick Hart, Partner
On 1 September 2016 Withy King LLP merged with Royds LLP. The trading name for the merged firm is Royds Withy King. All content produced prior to this date will remain in the name of the firms pre-merger.
IVF baby deceit man – DNA testing in divorce should be routine
A lecturer at the centre of what is thought to be Britain’s first case of paternity fraud involving IVF has called for the introduction of routine DNA testing in divorce.
The man, whose identity cannot be published for legal reasons, was tricked into raising another man’s child as his own for six years.
He is also calling for an overhaul of the law after a judge ruled that his ex-wife could not be forced to hand back tens of thousands of pounds in maintenance payments even though they were the result of “fraud”.
The man, who is also a businessman in the south of England, has urged MPs to consider new legislation to recognise paternity deceit as a crime rather than a civil wrong.
His ex-wife cheated him into believing that the baby she conceived through fertility treatment at a clinic in Spain was his child.
In fact, the boy, who will be 10 later this year, was the product of a sperm sample provided by her former boyfriend instead of one he had given.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph the man called for an overhaul of the law around divorce and child contact to prevent other fathers being deceived – and the knock-on psychological effects.
“It is bereavement, it is dreadful, but it is peculiar because he is not dead, how do you handle that?” he said.
“We’ve got models for how you handle bereavement, but in this case you haven’t really. It is your worst fears confirmed, it was dreadful, but at the same time I thought I’m still his father, I’m still his emotional father and clearly I’ve got responsibilities, he’s my legal child.”
For the next three years he channelled his energies into the legal battles: first a doomed attempt to secure contact and then the civil case in which he sued his ex-wife for fraud.
“The DNA test should become the norm, like safe sex really,” he said. “It should be the culture, and not something you should be embarrassed about asking for.”
British IVF experts insisted that provisions in the UK should prevent the kind of lapses which happened in this case in Spain.
But the victim said he nevertheless hoped it would provide a trigger for a review of systems in this country.
“I think that the regulatory authorities should review their provisions to make sure they are fit for purpose,” he said. “The whole system is creaking and needs a complete review really.”
Family law solicitors who combine expertise with understanding