The topic of court ordered DNA test is applicable when someone is questioning the paternity of a child. A court ordered DNA test, is also often called as a “paternity test.”
A court ordered DNA test is relevant when a divorced or separated couple are having child custody disputes, or if they need to settle matters in relation to child support. There are also other matters why a court ordered DNA test will be needed, such as issues related to the birth certificate of the child, or simply to confirm the paternity of the child in question.
Why Take A Court Ordered DNA Test?
As briefly mentioned above, a court ordered DNA test is taken for reasons such as:
- Mainly to prove paternity in family law proceedings, or parenting proceedings; or
- To obtain child support from a person; or
- To deny child support obligations if you think someone is trying to seek child support from you on unfair grounds.
Importantly, if you wish for a court ordered DNA test to be made against someone, you will need to present concrete evidence reflecting the reasons why you question the paternity of the child. Commonly, these include doubts arising because of the timing of conception, or the appearance of the child.
Australian Legislation On Paternity Tests
According to Section 69W of the Family Law Act (1975) a court can make a parentage testing order when a party makes an application to a family court.
A court ordered DNA test is such a parentage testing order which is made to determine parentage of the child, especially during disputed parenting proceedings. A parentage testing order will require specific testing procedures to be undertaken.
Types Of Court Ordered DNA Tests
A DNA test can easily determine who the biological parents of a child are. To conduct a DNA test there are specific requirements such as:
- taking a bodily sample like a mouth swab;
- cheek swab; or
- a blood test
These samples will be taken both from the parent and the child to determine if they are biologically related. An important requirement when taking a court ordered DNA test is that these tests will need to be taken in a medical environment. Self-taken tests will not be used for legal proceedings.
Presumption Of Parentage In Australia
According to the Family Law Act (1975), before a DNA test is taken, it will be assumed that you are the parent of the child under certain conditions. These include:
- If the person’s name is on the child’s birth certificate – Section 69R
- If the person was married to the parent of the child at the time of conception – Section 69P
- If the person has sworn a Statutory Declaration stating that the child is theirs – Section 69T
- If the court has made an order that the person in question is the parent of the child – Section 69S
- If the person resided with the other parent of the child anytime between the span of 44 weeks to 20 weeks before the child was born – Section 69Q
- If the person has adopted the child
According to Section 69U of the Act above presumptions can be rebutted on the basis of balance of probabilities. Moreover, these presumptions will be rebutted if conclusive results regarding the parentage of the child are provided.
When Does A Court Ordered DNA Test Come Up?
During court proceedings such orders can be made when one party makes an application. As part of making the application, the applicant has to provide reasonable proof indicating why the other person may be the parent of the child.
To do so, the applicant will need to provide evidence such as proof of their relationship, the child’s birth certificate, or proof of their sexual relationship.
Once the court is satisfied with the evidence provided, such orders can be made. To collect the DNA, the applicant, the other parent and the child will need to attend a court-approved, accredited medical laboratory.
The results of the DNA test greatly influence parenting proceedings. If it is found that the person is indeed the parent of the child, they will also be liable to make child support payments. They will also have the authority to attend all parenting proceedings.
Alternatively, sometimes a person pays child support and it is later found by DNA tests that they are not the biological parent of the child. In such cases, they can also claim the money that they have paid by way of child support.
It is important to note that if a person who is close to the child finds that they are not the biological parent of the child, they will not be completely excluded, and they can still be involved in proceedings if they are genuinely concerned about the care, welfare and development of the child.
Case Study Example: Magill v Magill  HCA 51; 226 CLR 551
In the case of Magill v Magill, the father sued the mother for ‘paternity deceit’ claiming that he suffered loss of earnings, pain and humiliation because of deceit. A DNA test proved that he was not the biological father of two out three children borne by the mother during their marriage.
This can happen in cases where child support is unfairly sought from someone who is not the biological father of the child, This is where a court ordered DNA test is especially useful.
Legal Advice For Parenting Matters
When parenting matters escalate to courts, many people will often feel very stressed out. This is understandable as child custody disputes, and parenting proceedings can get complicated. To add to this, uncertainty around parentage can create more stress in individuals.
Whether you are refuting child support claims, or wish to make an application to determine parentage, the family law team at JB Solicitors’ is here to help you out. We offer fixed-fee pricing for our family law services to give all clients a clear sense of the costs.
Get in touch with our experienced and compassionate team of lawyers today.