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How can I dispute paternity or a parent-child relationship?

If the mother is married when she gives birth, the husband is automatically presumed to be the father of the child; he does not need to officially acknowledge paternity. Even if another man claims to be the biological father of the child, the husband’s relationship as legal father overrides and it is necessary to file a petition contesting paternity to change this state of affairs.

When a father-child relationship has been established by the non-married father recognising the child, this relationship may be challenged by filing a petition to dispute paternity.

Petition for disavowal of paternity

The following persons may file a petition:

  • The alleged father (the mother’s husband) or his own parents in the event of his death. The petition must in this case be filed within a year of the day he was informed of the birth of the child and of the fact that he may not be the natural father. The petition must also be filed within five years of the child’s birth.
  • The child, provided that the spouses stopped living together before the child reached the age of 18. The petition may be filed before the child reaches the age of 19.

The competent court is the court in the place of residence of one of the parties involved, namely the child, the mother or the alleged father (or his own parents following his death).

Challenging recognition

  • If the person who recognises the child marries the child’s mother, the mother, the husband or the husband’s communes of origin and of residence have the right to file a petition. The child may also file a petition if his/her parents stop living together while he/she is still under 18 or if the father acknowledges paternity after the child reaches the age of twelve.
  • If the acknowledging person is not married to the child’s mother, a petition may be filed by any interested party, that is to say the mother, the child, the child’s descendants (if the child has died) and the acknowledging person’s communes of origin and of residence.

In both cases a petition may be filed within a year of the day on which the petitioner learns that the child has been recognised and that the person recognising the child is perhaps not the biological father. A petition must be filed within five years of recognition.

The child may also challenge recognition before he or she reaches the age of 19.

The competent court is court in the place of residence of one of the parties involved.

What happens when a petition is successful?

When a petition or challenge is approved, the father-child relationship is withdrawn along with all its related effects, including name, citizenship and parental authority. The court which issued the decision notifies the civil register authorities so that the entry in the civil register can be changed.