A man from central Switzerland, having discovered via a DNA test that the girl who he thought was his daughter was not his, cannot annul his status as father because he took too long to lodge a complaint, the federal court has decided.
According to Swiss law, a person must lodge a complaint with one year of discovering the mistake and no more than five years after recognising paternity.
The man from canton Schwyz had recognised the girl as his daughter in January 2009. Five months later he married the girl’s mother, whom he had known for years and with whom he had had a “chequered relationship”, according to the court. He had left Russia and the girl’s mother soon after the girl’s birth in 1999.
Examinations of the man in November 2009 and May 2010 revealed that he was practically sterile. The court noted that this must have raised questions in his mind about whether he was indeed the girl's father.
However, he said he did not go looking for an explanation because he didn’t want to put a strain on his recent marriage or relationship with the girl. In addition, he said the girl’s mother had explicitly confirmed that he was the father in an email of September 2009.
Also, he didn’t think the semen analysis results necessarily meant he had been infertile ten years previously.
However, when the man lodged a complaint in July 2013, after the marriage fell apart, the time limit for complaining had expired.
“Genetic ancestry is not the only justification for a child-parent relationship,” maintained the judges in Lausanne. “It must therefore not be possible to challenge a recognition [of paternity] recklessly.”
In its decision, the court added that because there was also the social-psychological side to parenthood, it was therefore “completely justified that the child-parent relationship remains, even when it has been established that the legal father is not the genetic father”.
swissinfo.ch and agencies