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Hess v Adoption Unit [2022] NZFC 3051

Published 23 September 2022

Application for discharge of adoption order — paternity declaration — fit and proper person — family violence — Adoption Act 1955 — Family Violence Act 2018 — Care of Children Act 2004, s 5 — Status of Children Act 1969, ss 7 & 10 — Edwards v Houghton [2018] NZFC 2716 — SFD v JEL [2005] NZFLR 1057, (2005) 24 FRNZ 909. The applicant applied to the Court for an order discharging the adoption order that had been in place since 1957, and a declaration as to paternity in respect of the applicant's biological father. The applicant filed extensive evidence that the adoptive father had been abusive towards him and his biological mother. The biological mother was deceased and could not corroborate the evidence, and the adoptive father did not engage with the proceedings. The DNA evidence establishing paternity was assisted by the applicant's half-sisters, as the biological father was also deceased. The Court had jurisdiction to grant such a declaration in cases where the biological parent was deceased. The Court determined that it was appropriate to grant the paternity declaration and a discharge of the adoption order, and made orders accordingly. The Court also made an order changing the applicant's surname to his biological father's surname on his birth certificate. Judgment Date: 5 April 2022. * * * Note: names have been changed to comply with legal requirements. * * *