In some proceedings before the Federal Circuit Court or Family Court of Australia it may be necessary for the Court to test the parentage of a child in relation to a party to Family Law proceedings. This can become necessary where one party disputes that they are the parent of a child and thus owe legal obligations to the child or to the corresponding parent, or can be the subject of a parenting order made by the Court.
How Can I Test The Parentage Of A Child In Family Law?
There are a number of ways the issue of parentage can be determined by a Court if it is in issue in proceedings before it.
Firstly, the Court may order a party or organisation to give any evidence as is material to the question of parentage (section 69V of the Family Law Act 1975). This may require the parties to provide a statement to the Court explaining why, or why not, they consider themselves to be the parent of the child.
However, if the Court is unable to make a determination on this evidence alone, it may make a parentage testing order that requires a testing procedure to be undertaken to assist it in determining the parentage of a child. A party to the proceedings or an Independent Children’s Lawyer may also apply to the Court for a parentage testing order (section 69W).
The parentage testing procedure can be undertaken in relation to the child whose parentage is in question, the person known to be the mother of the child or, any person who in the opinion of the Court may yield information resulting from the procedure that may be useful to the Court in determining the question of parentage. Failure to take a parentage test has no penalty but the Court can draw inferences (section 69Y(2)).
Where the Court makes a parentage testing order in relation to a child under the age of eighteen however, the procedure cannot be undertaken without the consent of the child’s parent, guardian or, a person who due to a parenting order, is responsible for the child’s day-to-day care, development and welfare (section 69Z). If the relevant party refuses to consent to the procedure on behalf of the child, the Court is able to make any conclusions based on the circumstances that surround that refusal. This extends to a contravention of the order by a person over the age of eighteen who is the subject of a parentage testing order (section 69Y). Any report then made in relation to the procedure may be tendered into evidence before the Court and helps the Court to make a determination as to the parentage of the child (section 69ZC).
If you are the subject of a parentage testing order, or wish to dispute a claim of parentage made against you, it is important to obtain legal advice. Please contact Meroe Kuhl of Culshaw Miller Divorce & Family Lawyers in Perth or Adelaide today for more information.
Blog post by Meroë Kuhl