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When Can You Request a Paternity Test?

Most paternity tests are requested in the context of a mother seeking a father to pay child support and the father disputing that they are the biological father of the child.

In parenting proceedings there are presumptions of parentage. For example, a married couple are presumed to be the parents of a child born of the wife. Parties in Court proceedings can seek a “parentage testing order” be ordered to report on whether or not the parties are in fact the biological parents of the subject child. Section 69W of the Family Law Act provides power to the Court to order a parentage testing Order. Parentage testing orders are also covered under the Regulations in which there are only specific lavatories across Australia that are approved and they are listed on the Attorney General’s website.

A Parentage Testing Order will not be made in all cases that one is sought. A Parentage Testing Order will only be made in the event the paternity of the child is a real issue in dispute. The case of Brianna & Brianna [2010] FamCAFC 97 is a recent case outlining the need for paternity testing in some cases. The case also discusses the progression in scientific research in recent times which allow DNA testing to be more readily accessible and possible in these matters. The case also discussed the impact of recent social science and of social science on children knowing their true identity and biology. Whilst this is not a prevailing reason to have a paternity test ordered in a case, the test remains it must be a real issue in dispute.

If paternity is a real issue in dispute it is likely that a paternity test will be ordered whilst considering the best interest of the child including their “right” to know their true biological parents. Just because a person is not a biological parent does not prohibit them from seeking parenting Orders in relation to the child.They may be an interested person under Section 65(c) of the Act.

Paternity testing can be conducted with or without a Court Order, including by agreement. The outcome of parentage testing may have a significant impact on each of the parties and no doubt the subject child. The parties should not request a paternity test lightly given the significant consequences that may follow depending on the results.

If you are uncertain of paternity of a child, or wish to consider undertaking a test, please contact one of our family lawyers.

Image Credit – lightwise ©

Written by Natasha Heathcote on June 27, 2018

Natasha has a strong passion for family law, and believes that the law can be used to achieve positive resolutions for her clients. When working with clients, Natasha shows compassion and first seeks to understand what is important to her clients, then looks for legal solutions that will best suit them. View Natasha's profile

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