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Chris The Lawyer
Chris The Lawyer, Lawyer
Category: New Zealand Law
Satisfied Customers: 23054
Experience:  38 years qualified as a lawyer; LLB, MMgt and FAMINZ.
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I am writing advice from New Zealand. My son, Jon, is 42. He

Customer Question

I am writing for your advice from New Zealand.
My son, Jon, is 42. He was born in the UK when I was living there with my husband who was completing post graduate medical studies. He has British and NZ citizenship.
Jon was not the child of my husband D rather the child of my employer M in a London Law firm who later went on to become President of The British Law Society. He was married with four children - I had one daughter.
My husband was told when Jonny was 2. At the age of 15 he was told by D - we had just separated - that he " was a bastard ''
By that time I had two younger sons aged 5 and 7 in an attempt to make up for my ' quote "treachery and evil " behaviour. It was impossible and eventually I left.
Jon had been greatly emotionally abused by his 'dad 'D whilst unknowing of the cause and has had serious lifelong depression and anxiety disorders together with
a drug problem from the early 20s to the age of 35. much of this is attributed to his having two fathers but really no father at all.
By way of background I received no maintenance throughout the years following my leaving in 1988 as my husband, who had remarried, threatened custody proceedings. I have never remarried and have supported all the children myself.
Jonny was thereafter estranged from D and did not know his biological father, M until meeting him in 1998.- he lived there until 2004/5 J travelled to Norfolk to visit M and his new partner and two children. M gave him some money for clothes and later paid for several months rent on a flat while J was at Central St Martin's as a music student. That fell apart with the drug addiction onset. He did not dispute paternity (but has now raised the qu as to whether he could be D's.)
M never knew about the addiction nor did D.
I supported him all these adult years as I could but had serious health problems in 1998. I never asked M for help at any time as he was very critical of his first wife's maintenance requirements ( for five children by then ) and he was not interested in J and said that they did not hit it off, later describing him as ' feckless '
Jonny has just gained a Masters with first Class Hons in Politics, international Studies and Criminology and is to go on to do a PhD most probably in Melbourne. He has a student debt of $77,000 - roughly 35 thous pounds. He will find it very difficult to fund his studies and interest from the debt accrues when he leaves NZ.
He has had years on Sickness / unemployment benefits although he trained in the UK as an English as a Second language teacher and at times earned an income to supplement benefits - also tutoring at uni.
He will have almost no chance of inheriting from his non biological father although he is the child most in need.
M is a well off man now close to 77 and still in practice - 3 firms -and the contributing writer on various legal journals.
I wrote to him telling him of J's success some months ago. I wrote again a week ago and suggested to him that he should contribute to his biol son's student debt given he has not only wholly escaped liability for any maintenance or support but has also escaped the extraordinary punishments meted out to me over 40 years by society in general for my ' sin' and in particular the sadness and harrowing years trying to hold Jonny up. It is entirely possible that M may have found his seat at the head of the British Law Society imperiled had it been known.
I received no reply so addressed a second message - containing none of the original text to his office. There was a rapid response under a pseudonym in which I am accused of recriminatory behaviour and J of fecklessness and requiring a job. finally stating he is not going to pay anything under duress as he worded it.
I would like to know, and have undertaken to J to find out - although he is most concerned to find out about his siblings and his lineage - whether he will have a claim under the equivalent of our Family Protection Act on M's death.
I know there is a relatively recent UKCA decision in Jackson.
In my view he is/ and remains as a consequence of his illness, in need of support.
How would it be possible to register, as it were - his potential interest? In these particular circumstances would he require a declaration of paternity and is there room to negotiate in advance of inheritance issues for maintenance in the form of - here - payment of the debt accrued from his studies, albeit later in age than the student maintenance given to Ms other children.?
I should be most grateful to hear from you with any advice as i am much concerned as to Jonny's future stability and know how distressed he is about financial matters. I cannot support him in lieu of the two ' fathers' both of whom are wealthy men.
It is possible Jonny may have a claim eventually against D's estate but there are probably strong grounds for D to say he provided fifteen years of support to a child not his.
In my v
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: New Zealand Law
Expert:  Chris The Lawyer replied 1 year ago.
Under New Zealand law your son is presumed to be the child of your marriage until there is evidence otherwise, but it would be impossible after the passage of time to change the position. He would have no claim under the Family Protection Act against his biological father, because he is not his child as a matter of law. Even if he is the biological son he remains the legal son of you and your husband at the time of his birth, and can claim against his legal father under that act. You cannot now claim maintenance for him in relation to his legal father, although you could have at the time of separation. If you had claimed then, his father would not have been able to resist a claim for child support, just as he cannot resist a claim under the Family Protection Act, although the fact he was not the biological father would no doubt be raised. None the less your son would under New Zealand law still be able to claim despite the status, as the act would permit a claim.But the only way to get support from the biological father would be if there was a formal acknowledgment of paternity, which could only be done by consent, which from your description may be unlikely.