Legislators approve changes covering denial of fatherhood

Czech lawmakers have approved changes to legislation covering the denial of fatherhood, overriding an earlier Senate veto. The amendment will extend a previous six month period for denying fatherhood (upon learning the biological parent was someone else) to three years. Experts have argued the earlier time frame was too short; at stake, of course, are not just the rights of the parent, but also of the child.

Radio Prague discussed the issue with Jaroslav Šturma - director of Children’s Centre Paprsek as well as chairman of the Czech-Moravian Psychological Society.

“I am happy that the lower house went ahead and approved the amendment because we are convinced that the principle of Truth has to be applied in all circumstances of life. We have a rather long tradition of telling even adopted children who their biological parents are and this is similar. I am convinced we can apply it even in other cases of fatherhood.

“We have observed in our clinical practice that very often some problems in behaviour of children can really be caused by circumstances that the child is not really anchored in his or her roots. So we often have to start to analyse the origin, the family, and on the basis of this truth we can try and correct misunderstandings and discomfort in behaviour and in relations.”

Jaroslav Šturma
These changes are in line with the Constitutional Court that ruled in favour of the rights of the father that could be trampled on: why was the previous six months ‘not enough’?

“The first six months were simply too short a period, from the discovery that one wasn’t the father, to process the case. Even with the best will there is always a lot of administration and bureaucracy involved and from the first discovery that things are otherwise it takes a long time for approval. I am really glad that this period will now be longer. For me the rights of the child are more important than the parent’s but in this case, they go hand-in-hand: the child has the right to know his or her biological father and to grow up in awareness of the truth.”

I imagine that this must be one of the most difficult situations a child, as well as the parents, can find themselves in...

“Yes, that is certainly true; the main criteria, though, should always be in favour of the child.”

And that means taking a case-by case approach?

“Yes. Families in such a situation need to be provided individual professional assistance and help in a process that, I should add, shouldn’t come at once but slowly. The child has to have time to adapt to the new situation.”