Children whose paternity is disputed will no longer need to be subjected to DNA tests to be included as beneficiaries of an estate, the High Court has ruled.
Instead, if the dispute persists, they can now seek to inherit as dependants as provided for under Section 29 of Laws of Succession Act.
The ruling comes amid numerous family conflicts where parties attempt to exclude some children from inheriting their father’s estate on disputed paternity. The conflicts mostly involve co-wives and in-laws.
But Justice Teresia Matheka has held that such children have a stake in the estate if there is evidence the deceased had taken them as his own and he was maintaining them immediately before his death.
Justice Matheka made the ruling on a 19-year-old succession dispute between two co-wives named CW and PN. Ms CW was employee in the family before she got into a love affair with the deceased, who died in 1999.
The two women approached the court with two different applications. Ms CW wanted to be made a joint administrator to the deceased’s estate and her three children be considered as dependants in the distribution of property.
On her part, Ms PN wanted an order compelling the three children to undergo a DNA test to ascertain if they were fathered by the deceased.
Ms CW was, however opposed to the DNA test application and argued that herchildren were coming in as dependants of the estate under Section 29(b) of the Laws of Succession Act.
“It is not necessary to prove paternity because the three children are seeking to inherit the deceased’s estate as dependants,” she maintained application insisting that she was married to the deceased and she had children with him.
She produced copies of the children’s national identity cards as evidence.
Justice Matheka, however, found Ms CW was yet to establish that she was a wife to the deceased and therefore she cannot be made a co-administrator of the estate.
With regard to the application for DNA, the judge rejected it on grounds that Ms CW’s children were not claiming the property as biological children of the deceased, but as dependants.