Parentage testing for international maintenance agreements is important for children who need financial aid outside Australia. Child maintenance is a type of financial support for adult children (children over 18). An adult child may receive child maintenance if they:
- Are currently finishing tertiary school (college), vocational courses, or relevant training
- Have mental and physical disabilities that are preventing the adult child from achieving a reasonable standard of living
When one spouse decides to relocate abroad, the other party may feel vulnerable. They may stress about child support and spousal maintenance orders. This is especially the case if parties are not residing in the same nation. Regardless of separation or divorce, parents have the duty and obligation to undergo parentage testing for international maintenance agreements for their children.
What Does Section 97D of the Family Law Act Say?
Section 69ZD of the Family Law Act 1975 sets out provisions for parentage testing for international maintenance agreements. Parentage testing is the process of finding out the biological parents of a child. Parties may use parentage testing to satisfy any of Australia’s obligations under the following agreements.
- An arrangement with a reciprocating jurisdiction, or with a jurisdiction with restricted reciprocity, within the meaning of Section 110 or the convention referred to in Section 111.
- The Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Decisions Relating to Maintenance Obligations established at The Hague on 2 October 1973. The Hague is the international city of peace and justice.
- The Agreement on Child and Spousal Maintenance between the governments of Australia and New Zealand signed at Canberra on April 12, 2000.
These regulations may make provision for the following whether or not there is a particular provision in the concerned agreement or the Convention that expressly enables it:
- Granting a judge the authority to issue an order mandating the conduct of a parentage test at the request of a foreign court authority, the Secretary of the Department, or a person that the Secretary authorised.
- The execution of a parentage testing procedure and the creation of a report regarding the data gathered from the execution of the procedure
- The admissibility in court of a report concerning the data collected during a paternity test procedure, which was received from a foreign authority.
How Does Parentage Testing Work?
It’s important to know how parentage testing works when discussing parentage testing for international maintenance agreements. Parents who are unsure of who the child’s biological parents are may approach the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia for a court-ordered paternity test. Upon receiving an application for a paternity test, the court may request the following for evidence purposes:
- Birth certificate
- Proof of a romantic or sexual relationship
- Any more tangible evidence that a parent can provide to support their sincere and honest belief that the other parent is the child’s father.
- Any other relevant evidence to support parentage testing for international maintenance agreements.
The court may mandate paternity testing for a child involved in the proceedings under Section 69W of the Family Law Act. However, family courts cannot force people to undergo the test. The court will decide based on the presented evidence and the balance of probabilities if a person in question chooses not to proceed with the test.
However, disobeying a court order could result in charges of contempt of court or violating a court order. If a person in question is charged with a crime and proven guilty, they can face jail time among other punishments. Mouth swabs or blood tests are commonly used when determining parentage. People who undergo paternity testing must follow certain protocols which include:
- Completing an affidavit and declaration
- Signing the label on the sealed container that contains the bodily samples
- The declaration with the signature of the sample taker with the picture of the donor. The declaration and photo should be joined in a way that makes it obvious if either is removed.
- Details of the donor’s recent medical history are in the affidavit and declaration.
Making International Maintenance Orders
Indeed, Australia has a clear policy on parentage testing for family law matters in Australia. However, many people are unaware that they can undergo parentage testing for international maintenance agreements. A maintenance order must fit the following description of a Registerable Overseas Maintenance Liability in order to be registrable in Australia:
- An order for maintenance issued by a court in a reciprocating jurisdiction
- A maintenance arrangement that has been recorded by a judicial or administrative body of a reciprocating jurisdiction
- A maintenance charge imposed by a reciprocating jurisdiction’s administrative agency
The Child Support (Registration and Collection) Regulations of 1988‘s Schedule 2 sets out a list of reciprocal jurisdictions. The Australian Child Support Agency permits the recording and enforcement of maintenance obligations that resulted from judgments rendered by courts in cooperating jurisdictions. Therefore, it might be possible to have overseas maintenance payments enforced in Australia if the nation is a reciprocating jurisdiction.
Parentage Testing for International Maintenance Agreements: Case Example
In the case of Harris & Vernon (2016), a Federal Circuit Court Judge dismissed Mr Harris’ application. Mr Harris’ application sought to set aside provisions of an international divorce settlement agreement that requires regular child support payments. The agreement provided that Mr Harris will pay Ms Vernon an amount of $2000 per month from May 2013 for a period of 24 months for their child.
Mr Harris stated that his obligation to pay child support should adhere to Australian law. The judge in this case found out that there was no proof that Mr Harris had registered the marital agreement in Australia or tried to do so. Furthermore, the Judge said that it was up to the father to decide whether to complete the registration process or not. As a result, Mr Harris’ application was dismissed.
How Can JB Solicitors’ Family Lawyers Help?
Parentage testing for international maintenance agreements may cause disputes among divorced or separated parents who have children living outside Australia.
JB Solicitors can aid in child maintenance and child support proceedings to ensure that children receive the financial aid they need. We have mediation and arbitration services should disputed parents want out-of-court agreements.
Contact a family lawyer today for more information about parentage testing for international maintenance agreements