Court decision opens way to inheritance for the “fatherless”
Unexpected heirs may start turning up at the inventories of estates of the deceased in the coming years, after decision handed down on Monday by the Helsinki Court of Appeals. The ruling gives people considered fatherless a chance to get a court to confirm paternity in some circumstances.
The decision could apply to hundreds, and possibly even thousands of Finns who do not have a mention of a recognised father in their populataion register information.
Under the paternity law of 1976, children born out of wedlock before October of 1976 should have initiated proceedings to have official recognition of paternity within five years of passage.
In practice, this has often been impossible, because many have not even known who their biological father was, if the mother has refused to reveal the information.
Monday’s court decision involved just such a case. A man, who was born in 1961, learned his father’s identity in 2007.
The law has been criticised since the 1980s as placing people of different ages in an unequal position.
The Left Alliance proposed changes to the law in 2000, but failed to get enough Parliamentary support.
“About 100,000 children were born out of wedlock between 1951 and 1976. Although many of them have been later recognised by their fathers, tens of thousands have not”, the Left Alliance Parliamentary group declared at the time.
So how should a fatherless person proceed? Lawyer Markku Fredman represented the man in the case. He said that a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity can be launched.
“If this is refused, going to court is a possible way, which was blocked until Monday. Now it is possible to get confirmation for these old cases”, Fredman said.
However, valid reasons for suspecting fatherhood are needed. Without it, a court cannot compel anyone to undergo a blood test or DNA test without it.
Previously in HS International Edition:
About 40 percent of Helsinki children born out of wedlock (2.5.2009)