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Paternity Disputes (DNA)

Paternity Disputes (DNA)

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Sometimes doubts about paternity arise after separation.  This is particularly common when parties separate amidst concerns of infidelity, and the father is assessed to pay child support.  The father may seek clarification as to the paternity of the child due to the ongoing obligation to pay child support.

Evidence required to disprove paternity

The father must provide evidence to disprove paternity in order to be discharged from the obligation to provide child support.  The Child Support Agency will accept evidence from:-

  1. The results of a legal paternity test; and
  2. A declaration of parentage from the court.

Paternity testing of a child can be undertaken with the consent of the mother.  However, if the mother does not consent to a paternity test, the father is able to file an application seeking a parentage testing order.  The person who wishes to obtain an order for parentage testing must demonstrate there is an honest and reasonable doubt as to paternity of the child.

There are several types of paternity tests that can be undertaken.  Testing able to be used as evidence in court must comply with strict requirements concerning sample collection, delivery and laboratory testing.  There are some tests that cannot be used in court proceedings regarding the issue of parentage. 

Child support while waiting for a paternity test result

The process of applying to the court for an Order, and the parentage test being completed, can be lengthy.  A child support debt will continue to accrue if an assessment is in place, unless you make an application to stop the payments until the outcome of the testing is known.  This is known as a Stay Application. 

There are some circumstances where child support payments should be repaid.  You can find out more information about whether you are able to recuperate payments made to child support in our article Child Support – Can I get it Back?

It is important to obtain legal advice to discuss your situation prior to making any allegations as to paternity.  Allegations regarding paternity can be damaging, and once spoken cannot be unsaid.  Please contact our office should you wish to discuss paternity testing, or a stay application, with one of our experienced family lawyers.


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