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Supreme Court rules DNA test results cannot revoke paternal status of child's father

60 Comments

In a historic case, Japan's Supreme Court has ruled that DNA tests are not sufficient to invalidate familial paternal relations, even if the results from the test show no signs of blood relation to the assumed father.

The ruling means that under the Japanese Civil Code, DNA tests cannot change the status of a child who is considered the legitimate offspring of a married couple.

The court ruling, handed down on Thursday, said that it was paramount to protect the social status of the child, Sankei Shimbun reported. Even if DNA testing shows that the child has no blood relationship to his familial father, the paternal status of the father cannot be revoked.

The court made the ruling after deliberating on three cases. In two cases, two married women became pregnant after having extramarital relationships. In the third case, a married man asked the court to invalidate his paternal relationship with two of his children after DNA tests established they were not his offspring. His appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court, Sankei reported.

The court ruling therefore means that children are legally recognized to be the offspring of their mothers' husbands, and not their biological fathers.

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So let me get this right. If your wife cheats on you and gets pregnant, and you believe it is yours, only to be shocked at birth that the baby is obviously not (full Japanese, or dark skinned etc). DNA tests prove this, and you end up getting divorced over the infidelity. Under this law you are obliged to pay for child support for this product of her affair?

11 ( +11 / -0 )

wow! only in Japan!

10 ( +15 / -5 )

What a crock! You make my wife pregnant, and I'm responsible for your spawn? BS.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Well,

children are legally recognized to be the offspring of their mothers’ husbands, and not their biological fathers

I guess this is one sure way to make sure that the kids' social status is protected. But I am pretty sure that the marriage is not going to last long, and then what happens to their 'social status' then? Another strange decision based on that outdated family registry. Trash the darn thing once and for all...

8 ( +11 / -3 )

The most STUPID thing I have ever read..... ignore ALL science because it's inconvenient

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Daniel Neagari: Are you kidding? Read the article! Two cases where the wife cheated on the husband and the children are entered on the birth certificate and all family records as that husband!? He would be forced to pay child support to his cheating wife and non biological "children" if he filed for divorce!

6 ( +8 / -2 )

So biological fathers have no rights to their kids if the mother is a cheater and married to someone else? Jesus. And let's add in that non blood related men who are married to cheaters are now expected to step up and take responsibilty for a love child they may know is not theirs and is one reason the couple make get a divorce? Are they non-biolgical dads suppose to pay child support in such an event?

I have an idea. If Japan actually cared about the welfare of childen, they would stop placing such importance on marriage and get rid of the stigma of divorce, single parents and that damn family registration. Oh and let's not forget that "lovely" rule as to who has pat rights in the event of a divorce and the woman being pregnant and blocking women from getting remarried within six months of divorce. Nothing to do with the welfare of kids but keeping control of people.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Most news reports are missing the underlying point of the ruling which has more to do with the courts respecting the law passed by the Diet rather than paternity. The decision is correct in the sense that it upholds exactly what the Civil Code unequivocally states: That the current husband is presumed to be the father. The ball is now in the court of the Diet to change the Civil Code to allow for DNA testing to rebut the presumption after the narrow window for challenging paternity has closed. The court isn't going to read something into the law that doesn't exist.

Very often, the courts in Japan try to protect the government from the unintended consequences of the laws that are passed rather than enforcing what is clearly written. In this case there were in fact 2 dissenting opinions that wanted to do exactly that by carving out an exception with creative interpretation. However, the majority of the court basically said, if you pass a strange law, you are going to get strange outcomes and the court is not going to stretch the law and redebate the underlying merits which would be doing the Diet's job for them.

The Civil Code is in need of reform (which is a job for the Diet), but this ruling is a huge win for the rule of law in Japan.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Daniel Neagari,

I get you points, but for the father whose wife CHEATED ON HIM and had kids... you don't think that is a good enough reason to revoke your paternal rights? He was mislead and lied to.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Probably the correct ruling given what the Japanese civil code says. Given the civil code's primary interest in establishing a social foundation for Japanese society, the standard has a clear rationale.

On the other hand, this same standard is one that will make men even less interested in marrying and having children. Why bother if the husband has no recourse in determining paternity? If a husband of a cheating wife is required by law to raise or at least support other men's children, more than a few men will probably react by saying, "Hey, I'm better off being that other man." The law seems to give all liberty to a woman to behave however she wants, while placing all material responsibility on the husband.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I love Japan but darned if I don't have a hard time liking it sometimes.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

So I guess I can safely sleep around with other peoples wives and have unprotected sex. Go Nippon!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

So, do you think there were thoughts of The Hague agreement in the back of the judge's minds when they handed down this ruling cos this also means a father cannot use DNA to prove the kids are his. This ruling will have huge backlashes for the kids involved. The fathers will be legally responsible for these kids eve though they know they are not there's and were the result of the mother's promiscuity. A truly stupid ruling!

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Ya know.... I think the judge made the right decision. Bear with me for a second.

At first I was pissed - why the hell should that man have to pay for the spawn that whore mother tried to pawn off on him as his responsibility? I thought. But then I realised I was thinking that way because of my anger at the mother, my pity for the father, and my disregard for the kid. (Frankly, I do not like kids.) It was all personal bias.

This country doesn't have a place in society for single parents, male or female. Children growing up without both names filled on their birth certificates are doomed, in far too many ways. Yeah. it's gonna suck for the dad that he married such a rat-ass mother and has to pay for her infidelity, but on the other hand, that kid has just as much responsibility to the father and his bloodline (related or not, on paper makes it legal) as he invests in the kid. He will have to pay for his father's retirement, his father's family home, his father's funeral, all because his name is on the paper. So it's not like the investment made in the child is money thrown away. The only person who gets away scott-free on this is the mother.

So pity on the kid, and I hope that he and the father are able to bond in some way. They need each other, and the judge has, very objectively, told the community to man up and take care of the bastards of society so that society doesn't end up caving in on itself due to a passing off of responsibility as a whole.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

In a historic case, Japan’s Supreme Court has ruled that DNA tests are not sufficient to invalidate familial paternal relations, even if the results from the test show no signs of blood relation to the assumed father.

Yeah, because who needs real science when everyone can just guess instead? What a crock.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Civil Code Article 777

A husband shall bring an action to rebut the presumption of the child in wedlock within one year of knowing of the child's birth.

In all of the three cases, the actions were brought before the court after the 1 year period. That is why the court turned down the action.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The father can contest paternity Japan, but the window to do this is very small and limited, also DNA testing is not held to be decisive under current law. The legal rulings are correct but it's a difficult situation. I think the problems here seems to stem from the fact that there isn't a clear distinction in Japanese family law between biological parent and legal guardian.

There are other implications to think about if we decide that DNA testing should be decisive even years after the child is born, for example:

Inheretence : If a parent dies without a will, should the other siblings be able to disinheret another child who is found later not to be a non-biological child either through an affair or switched at birth? Clearly the child has provided the parent with all of the happiness of a child throughout that parent's lifetime so it might be unfair for DNA and the law to say it is irrelevant. If the court ruled other than the way it did, this could have happened.

Vicarious Liability : If a child causes some property damage etc, the law holds the parent/legal guardian responsible. Should a parent be allowed not to pay compensation if it turns out they are not the biological father after all? Obviously they raised the rotten child and probably bear most of the responsibility.

Finally, the fathers are legally responsible for these non-biological children only because they assumed responsibility for them when they were born. However, they now say that their assumption of responsibility should be interpreted as having an implicit caveat which was 'as long as the child is biologically mine'. Most people would sympathise with this, but the next question the law would have to answer is whether parents can also say 'I agree to take care of this child as long as the child loves me back, or as long as the child is not disabled or well behaved etc.' Once you assume responsibility for a child (any child), you can't go back on your word for the benefit of the child.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

For this particular case, the father (the not related one) is fighting to keep the parental rights for the child he help to raise. This may not be the case for everyone.

I don't know what article you are reading it doesn't say that anywhere, in all 3 cases in the article the father wanted to remove his "father" title because the children where not biologically his.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Actually in one of the cases, the non-biological father was fighting to stay registered as the father because he had raised the child for years. The bio-mother supported him. The bio-father had just poped back into the picture after years in the shadows.

I think one way the law should be changed is to somehow allow registration of both bio-fathers and legal guardian fathers. Surely it is in the child's best interest to have the data available if they chose to find the bio-father years later.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@ CH3CHO - Thanks for the info. So the woman only has to hide the fact of paternity for a year (not too difficult I'd think), long enough for the unsuspecting husband to bond with the baby, then crush him with the announcement "He's NOT your son, but you are financially responsible for the next 18 years or so. Sorry."

2 ( +2 / -0 )

People may argue that the 1 year period is too short, but 10 years would be too long, and someone has to draw a line.

Why? There should be no need to draw a line for the truth. The truth is the truth whether it is one year later or a hundred.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Absolutely ridiculous. why would a man have to be responsible for child that is not his. So this means that pretty much any man can be slapped with a paternity suit if the woman 'thinks' or wants him to be the father of her illegitimate child! INSANE! Women's rights groups are getting away with murder in this country.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

So if the guy is tricked into marrying some tramp or is tricked into believing that some other guys kid is his he is screwed! Nice.......

Talk about screwing the guy over twice.......

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Most news reports are missing the underlying point of the ruling which has more to do with the courts respecting the law passed by the Diet rather than paternity. The decision is correct in the sense that it upholds exactly what the Civil Code unequivocally states: That the current husband is presumed to be the father. The ball is now in the court of the Diet to change the Civil Code to allow for DNA testing to rebut the presumption after the narrow window for challenging paternity has closed. The court isn't going to read something into the law that doesn't exist.

Sadly, this sounds spot-on. When the law specifically states one thing, judges are not at liberty to rule otherwise. The laws regarding paternity need to be seriously upgraded to take into account the advances in science over the last 65 years.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is really really stupid. Adoption is adoption and has nothing to do with who is the biological father. This denies biology, biochemistry, and science in general. If the court just defends the law no matter who out dated or stupid, then they are not needed. If the law does not evolve with the times then what is ABE trying to do with re-interpreting article 9? Based on this, he not allowed. The law is the law. This is the answer for people who do think or care about the society.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Daddy, you are stuck with your wife's love child. I am sure the wife's lover will be grateful to know that his child will be taken care of.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Maria MJUL. 18, 2014 - 10:15PM JST This ruling is to protect the child. It's not the child's fault his biological father turns out to be not her/his mom's husband.

You are right Maria, it is not the child's fault, it's the tramp mothers fault. So she should have to bear responsibility for what she did and not some poor schlep who was suckered into marrying her, because the guy who knocked her up would not.

Maria MJUL. 18, 2014 - 10:15PM JST When the husband saw his wife pregnant and agreed to become a parent and raise the child, why should the child be casted off suddenly because the husband has a fit because he's not his own blood?

Because, the real father is some other guy who didn't want anything to do with the kid or the mother. So instead of being honest the mother tells the poor sap that the kid is his and bingo, a free ride for mommy and child until the sap gets a clue.

Maria MJUL. 18, 2014 - 10:15PM JST Sure, have a fight with your wife, get divorced if you want, but the child is innocent in all this, and he needs some kind of protection.

Why pay for some other guys kid who you were lied into believing was yours? How would you like it if you took a kid home from the hospital and then discover the hospital gave you the wrong kid? Would you love it as your own or would you want yours?

But, in the real world saps will always be saps. I wonder how many saps out there have been rearing my kids....

1 ( +1 / -0 )

basically dont marry any J woman who is pregnant or has children as youll be financially responsible for her kids even is you get a divorce. basically single mothers will probably just stay single with the tax payer having to support her and her kids. you see the pattern its more about passing the cost of welfare onto some poor sods instead of the government. your much better off financially to just live together having seperate addresses on paper, sad yes but this is just another law that supports it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

" DNA tests are not sufficient to invalidate familial paternal relations, even if the results from the test show no signs of blood relation to the assumed father. "

Wow, crazy.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Easy to be dad, harder to be father. It's a double-edged sword.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

M3M3M3, I'd take it a step further. Women are so frequently solely blamed for pregnancy in this male-dominated society - "If they'd only keep their legs closed!" - that you'd think most pregnancies were immaculate. Clearly, a male is involved, and that male should be held as responsible as the female typically is.

I suggest that, if a paternity test is conducted and if the husband is found not to be the father within a reasonable timespan after birth (two years?), that, upon his wishes, he be absolved of responsibility for the offspring; in return, the biological father would be located and required to support not just the child but also the mother to the extent that her child-raising duties reduce her potential income.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Is not stupid.

Daniel -- IMO it is stupid. This ruling -- by Japan's highest court, so it does set precedent for all similar cases -- was made simply to try to protect a hopelessly outdated Civil Code, because if they ruled any other way, the entire Civil Code could be open to attack/change. And, as we all know, that Civil Code is in place primarily to protect the "purity" of the Japanese bloodline.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The court ruling therefore means that children are legally recognized to be the offspring of their mothers’ husbands, and not their biological fathers. if the biological father was Japanese and the married father was gaijin, wonder if theyd bend the rules in that case?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

gogogo at Jul. 18, 2014 - 07:53PM JST "For this particular case, the father (the not related one) is fighting to keep the parental rights for the child he help to raise. This may not be the case for everyone.

I don't know what article you are reading it doesn't say that anywhere, in all 3 cases in the article the father wanted to remove his "father" title because the children where not biologically his."

gogogo, you are mistaken. Not all of the details and nuances are given in this short,article. But a lot more has been all over the Japanese media since Thursday. One case is the Hokkaido case. Married couple Male A and Female B had a baby after being together about ten years. Shortly after the birth, B informed A that Male C, her lover, was the actual father. However, A and B agreed to stay together. A loved and doted on the baby, taking good care of it. After about a year though, B took the baby and left, and A and B were divorced. B and C married, and are living with their baby, who is now about four years old. DNA testing has confirmed C is the biological father. B has not allowed A to see the baby since she left him but through those three years he has strongly desired to see and have a relationship with the baby he raised for one year and wanted the court to retain himself as the legal parent. B and C want all evidence of the parental relationship with A to be erased and for C to be recognized as the only father.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If my wife cheats to me. I have to be the father?...thats nice. Hahahaha oh sh.....

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The most STUPID thing I have ever read..... ignore ALL science because it's inconvenient

@gogogo

You are right - science is being ignored. However, we need to recognise that what is happening here is the separation of the biological concept of the father with the social concept of the father.

This is not unique to Japan - it happens in a number of societies. In the West it is partly recognised through adoption. I have no blood ties to the man I call "uncle", but I consider him a member of my family because he married my aunt.

The court is not denying that the biological father is someone else, but that the person who performs the social function of father is a different person to the biological father, not unlike in an adoption. It may not fit your world view and the social norms to which you are familiar, but it does not make them wrong, just different.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

If the husband divorces due to the infidelity on the part of the wife he should get custody of the kids. Divorce laws in Japan are odd but on this point if adultery is proven, in this case clearly proven, the law would give the kids to the partner who did not violate the marriage. Even if male. This case decision would support this principle.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Wow. Outrageous really. Especially when you consider this:

Article 772 - Paragraph 2. A child, born two hundred days or more after the day on which the marriage was formed or born within three hundred days from the day on which the marriage was dissolved or annulled, shall be presumed to have been conceived during marriage.

200 days after someone is married means the wife may have been pregnant with another man's child for 2-3 months before getting married and the new husband is the legally recognised father.

How about in the case of couples who are separated but not legally divorced? 300 days from the day on which the marriage was dissolved or annulled is a full term (10 month) pregnancy. These judges aren't living in the modern world.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

OUTRAGEOUS and draconian. What respectable woman would want to deny her own child their true identity, medical history, heritage, bloodline and an relationship with the biological father and grandparents. Women like this do nothing for the women's movement. These dishonest females want all the equality but no responsibility. Shame on this mother and shame on the Japanese Courts for upholding her fraud and deception.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's not official until regestereded at city hall, with a Hunko. Totally inappropriate way to regester families. Stalkers get access and abused mums shun registering leaving children outside the system. The system needs to be changed. It's ridiculous to expect a cockholed father to be responsible for the offspring of a wife who has no respect for him.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sorry, not the judges but politicians passing these laws.

What makes this truly sickening is that even if a woman cheats on her husband and gets pregnant than divorces her husband and remarries the child will be recognised as the previous husbands child, even if the biological father is in the picture.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Before criticizing this decision as something that could happen "only in Japan," people should check the laws of their own countries.

For example, in Japan the husband (or actual father) has a one-year window in which to challenge the presumption of paternity. This is only slightly different than the law of, say, California, which provides a two-year window of time in which to challenge the presumption of paternity.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It just more laziness by the investigators. Rather than doing their jobs and using scientific forensic evidence to prove or disprove paternity, they use guilt by association. Taking the easy least mendokusai way out seems to be the Japanese way.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Smart move, what will a stressed out husband do with cheating wife and kids that are not his? This will cause only more grieve.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I am surprised to see people who think children as financial burden.

Here is good news for them. A legal father has the right to make biological fathers pay reimbursement for any child raising costs that are incurred. By the way, this ruling is new only with regard to DNA testing. Similar rulings based on blood type tests are already well established.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

GOVT profits from Problems not SOLUTIONS...mandatory DNA TESTING would STOP this rubbish but, there is too much money involved. Lying and hiding behind children to maintain the facade of not bastardising children......MEN Women & GOVT are not to be trusted.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@gogogo

Is not stupid. This ruling have many objectives. 1) Set a corner stone, for future rulings for these kind of problems. 2) The above setting of the corner stone is because thinking of the "social status" of the child (as the article states). This is because, the following may very well happen.

The father who raised the child (not genetically related) loses the parental rights... The genetic father is death or worse he does not accept the child as his own... The child is left with no father.

3) There are people in this world that, are very well willing to raise a child as his own knowing they are not related. And there are people in this world that neglect to raise the child that they spawned...

This is not ignoring science, this is thinking the best for the child.

I give you that for the particular case stated in the article, this ruling may seem wrong. But consider that there are four other cases that this ruling applies.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

It is the right decision, but now the father can apply and obtain a divorce with clear proof of his wife's cheating. He'll still have to pay an alimony and child support though.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@gogogo

You either are an excellent lawyer (if you are not... you should)... or really twisted... (hence you should be a lawyer all the same).

As far as I know, in courts every where (unless you are in a dictatorial regime) the rulings are case by case.. yes even in Japan. This ruling does not apply to all cases, because every case is different... but it does set an precedence. For this particular case, the father (the not related one) is fighting to keep the parental rights for the child he help to raise. This may not be the case for everyone.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

if you a guy and meet a woman whos pregnant or a single mother, if you dont want to be financially responsible for her child, "DONT MARRY HER" or your screwed

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Not so quick roiied up, you can be sued for negatively affecting the marriage in Japan.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

There should be no window! Why this idea of a time limit? If proof is found than it's found what on earth has a time limit on justice. The mothers could be sued for spending the husbands money on their illegitimate child. A man can be held responsible for producing offspring out side of marriage? It's actually another example of Japanese politicians just being unable to pass laws that are competent or relevant to 2014. Guess they are too busy doing......?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

This is not "only in Japan." A recent case in the USA had the same result. The child's interest is paramount. It's not the child's fault that both parents have poor judgment.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Personal responsibility means you have to stand up and accept what you have done. It should never mean that it should force someone else to pay for what someone else did!

To force an innocent man to pay for children he never fathered is just insane. If a women tricks a man into believing that the kid is his then the that woman is the one who should pay and not the schlep who she tried to tricked.

This is just another sign of how far left politically correct bull is effecting our society. Personal responsibility means just that, personal responsibility.

How can anyone expect a man who was dumped into paying for a child that was never his in the first place? If the guy said, "yeah, I will raise him/her as my own" then by all means nail him for the costs of raising that child. But, if the mother of that child tricked the guy into believing that her lovers kid was his, well then, she should have to pay and not him!

PC bull is just PC bull and it needs to stop!

Personal responsibility means just that, personal responsibility no matter what gender! Just because a guy is a guy doesn't mean he has to pay for some other guys kid because some tramp wants him to!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

This is just another sign of how far left politically correct bull is effecting our society. Personal responsibility means just that, personal responsibility.

@JoeBigs: this has absolutely nothing to do with political correctness - quite strange that you should think it is. This decision reflects a widespread cultural norm where the biological father and social father do not have to be the same.

In social anthropolgy, this is referred to as the genitor and pater. In the West, these are usually combined, and the Western outlook of things is usually more dominated by biology. Hence adopted kids determination to get to know their "real" parents. However, it is just the Western way of doing things, not the correct way.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Speaking from a legal standpoint, this is already the law in the vast majority of states in America, so the "only in Japan" standard isn't quite accurate. It applies not only in cases of marriage, but also in cases of unwed parents. If I guy believed he was the parent of the child and has acted as such for years, including paying child support, he cannot try to revoke paternity based on a DNA test later. For married persons, in the eyes of the law, all children born during the course of the marriage are considered children of the marriage between the husband and the wife. The child knows that man as his/her father, so the status quo must be maintained. It's done in the best interest of the child, who is the only clear innocent person in the matter. Yeah, it sucks for the guy who got suckered into it, but the law presumes you are an adult who is capable of protecting yourself, i.e. picking your spouse better, whereas a child is not. I am actually surprised that Japan has adopted this perspective.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@IparryU

If that was me.. probably I will react as you say. But maybe... there are people that have a bigger heart than I do. And I think that this ruling was for that kind of parents.

I am actually raising Two boys... the kids of my wife from a former marriage. I am not their father, and in fact I encourage them to spend more time with their father.

Although, the older one is around 18 and the younger hates my gut ('cause to him I stole her mother)... I do care a lot about them. If their genetic father ever goes away (something that it won't happen.. I am sure), I will (I hope) sometime the young one at least call me father.....(may be I am dreaming though(.

Any way... even if the woman cheated on him, and because of that she bared a child that it is not of her husband... even then the guy may be more than willing to raise the child as his own.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

tmarieJul. 18, 2014 - 08:01PM JST

So biological fathers have no rights to their kids if the mother is a cheater and married to someone else?

Yes, they do. A biological father can file a law suit to recognize his child within the first year of the birth or during pregnacy. Beyond that point, a biological father loses his right, in favor of the child who believes the husband of his mother is his father. People may argue that the 1 year period is too short, but 10 years would be too long, and someone has to draw a line.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

This ruling is to protect the child. It's not the child's fault his biological father turns out to be not her/his mom's husband. When the husband saw his wife pregnant and agreed to become a parent and raise the child, why should the child be casted off suddenly because the husband has a fit because he's not his own blood? Sure, have a fight with your wife, get divorced if you want, but the child is innocent in all this, and he needs some kind of protection.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Granted, the decision seems very odd. But it is not. "Illegitimate" children face severe social and legal discrimination in Japan. Overcoming this prejudice is the policy aim behind the somewhat difficult to digest rational here.

Not long ago, we in the West had the same social and legal discrimination. In fact, in many states, "illegitimate" children were discriminated against well into the 1970s.

This is a good decision.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

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