Family judges often have a role to play at moments of grief and are used to dealing with tragic situations, but few can have been more so than that of a man who died two days after the birth of his baby daughter and before he could sign her birth certificate.
The man was aged just 43 when he died suddenly and unexpectedly in hospital from an acute infection. Two days earlier, his fiancée had given birth to his daughter. There was no doubt about his paternity, which had been confirmed by DNA testing. However, only the mother’s name appeared on the baby’s birth certificate.
In order to put the record straight, the mother’s lawyers applied to the High Court under Section 55A of the Family Law Act 1986 for a declaration of parentage. The Court found that it had power to make the declaration sought and that it was in the girl’s best interests to do so. That ruling opened the way for the Registrar General to re-register the child’s birth and to create a new birth certificate, officially identifying the deceased as her father.