The Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia, at the session held on September 19, 2023, adopted the Law amending the Law on Family, which was published in the Official Gazette No. 199 of September 25, 2023, and entered into force on the 8th day of publication in the Official Gazette.
With the Law amending the Law on Family, changes and additions were made to Chapter II of the Law on Family, which regulates the basis of the relationship between parents and children.
With the adopted amendments, the legal deadlines for the spouse to challenge the paternity of a child born by his spouse during the marriage, or before the expiration of 300 days from the termination of the marriage have been changed, as well as the deadlines in which the spouse’s guardian can contest paternity, if the spouse is deprived of capacity to contract, or if he has lost capacity to contract before the expiration of the period for contesting paternity.
Namely, compared to the previous provisions that stipulated that the lawsuit for disputing paternity can be filed within three months from the day of discovering the birth, with the Law amending the Law on Family, this deadline is now increased to one year.
With the adopted amendments to the Law on family, changes are foreseen in the legal deadlines in which the woman who is recorded in the birth register as the mother of the child can dispute her motherhood if she considers that she is not the child’s mother, as well as the legal deadlines in which the woman who considers herself as the child’s mother can contest the motherhood of the woman who is registered as the child’s mother in the birth register.
In these cases, instead of the previous provisions that provided for the lawsuit to be filed within three months from the day of discovery of the birth, with the Law amending the Law on Family, the deadline is now increased to one year.
In addition to the mentioned amendment, with the Law amending the Law on Family, the Law on Family has also been amended in terms of who can contest the paternity of the child.
When it comes to disputing paternity through the courts, with the previous legal solutions, only the spouse who is recorded as the father of the child in the birth certificate, of a child born by his spouse during the marriage, or before the expiration of 300 days from the termination of the marriage, or his guardian if he is deprived of contract capacity, the mother of the child, and the child could be the plaintiff in the lawsuit for disputing paternity (so-called actively legitimized persons).
With the previous legal solution, the biological parent was prevented from exercising the right to challenge the paternity of the child in a way that the Law on family denied him the right to file a lawsuit, which is in contradiction with the Article 25 of the Constitution and Article 8 from the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights.
This inconsistency and legal disorder in a large number of procedures for establishing, i.e. disputing paternity, which are conducted before the competent courts, completely denied the opportunity for another person to be registered as the father, when he proves with material evidence that he is the biological parent, i.e. the father of a child born in the marriage of the mother with another man, who is legally registered as the father, i.e. the child he recognized as his own.
With the Law amending the Law on family, the biological parent is now given the possibility to be actively legitimized as the plaintiff, in the same way that the Law amending the Law on Family has been supplemented with a new article – Article 65-a which stipulates: “According to this law, a man who claims to be the father of the child can dispute the paternity of the person who is considered the father of the child if he simultaneously requests paternity determination.” The lawsuit for disputing paternity from paragraph 1 of this article is filed within one year from the birth of the child.”
Regarding the application of Article 65-a of the Law on Family, the Law amending the Law on family stipulates that a lawsuit for contesting paternity can be filed within one year from the date of entry into force of this law, for a child which by the date of entry into force of this law has reached one year of age but is not more than five years old.