Any Man Can Become Father Against His Will

One court decision is enough to declare you a father
Struggle with the increasing number of homeless children was very active in this country during the years of the Great October Revolution. It was a widely used practice that women registered some men fathers of their children, even when the men were not biological fathers of the children and were even not aware of the newly-born. Such named fathers had just a month to call their paternity into question. Decades have passed since that time, but today, unlike women and children, men are still restricted with a definite period given for calling their paternity into question. Family affairs have been always stamped as top secret. Gubernia has neither right nor inclination to reveal family secrets, that is why the names of people mentioned in the article were changed. Trust, the case to which a court decision has been given the other day, is extremely interesting.

A Russian young man named Vadim got back home after his army service. He started dating with a girl named Marina whom he had known even before the service. Soon they got married, and a baby came into the world. In several years, the marriage went to pieces and the problem was logically settled with a divorce. When the couple divorced, Marina broke a very unpleasant news to Vadim: she said that he wasn’t the father of the child. As it turned out, she dated some other man before the marriage and got pregnant from him. Vadim didn’t count the days and the weeks since the conceiving, that is why he couldn’t even guess that he wasn’t the father of the child. Vadim appealed to the municipal court in the city of Petrozavodsk (in the Russian autonomous republic of Karelia) for contesting the paternity. Being in court, Marina admitted that Vadim wasn’t the father of the child. And the official entry on Vadim’s paternity was cancelled. However, in two years an attorney who defended Marina’s rights in the court, appealed against the court decision because the child’s right had been violated when the decision was passed. Another court session was held. Once again, Marina admitted that Vadim wasn’t a biological father of the child. However, this time the woman slightly changed her position: she said that Vadim had been aware that the child wasn’t his.

Vadim’s statement was quite different. But what he was saying, had no particular importance any more. As is said in the legislation: “A person registered as a father or a mother of a child, has the right to contest the registration within a year since the moment the person learnt about the official entry about the birth.” That is why the court declared, if Vadim didn’t contest his paternity within a year since the child's birth, he is the father. Which entails definite consequences: he must pay maintenance to the child, and the latter has the interest in the father’s property, etc.

The affiliation action is one of the most popular in the civil legislation. The Family Code is employed to explain men that they have children about whom they must care. In this very case both sides confirmed that Vadim wasn’t a biological father of the child; but the court did declare him the father. The situation is actually very strange indeed. The government is obviously trying to avoid aggravation of the child’s situation after Vadim’s paternity is not recognized. But is it fair to be declared a father if you are not such in fact? The Family Code often turns out a surprise for parents. A couple of years ago, a quite contrary case occurred in Petrozavodsk. A woman divorced her husband and married some other man; a baby was born. But when the couple decided to officially register the baby, the husband unexpectedly learnt that he couldn’t be officially registered his father. As it turned out, in accordance with the Family Code in force, if the period between a divorce and official registration of a baby is less than 300 days, the previous husband is registered as his official father. Isn’t it absurdity? Yes, it is. But what can be done: Dura lex sed lex.

Ivan Goussev Petrozavodsk Gubernia newspaper

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