How do I get a court ordered paternity test in Australia?
If you are questioning the paternity of a child, you can get a court ordered paternity test in Australia by applying to the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court.
A paternity test may be needed to help settle a child support dispute, a birth certificate issue or to confirm the paternity of a child in parenting proceedings in court.
The court can order a paternity test on its own initiative or upon your application.
Before a court-ordered paternity test can take place, the applicant has to satisfy the court that there is a reasonable belief as to why the person requiring the paternity test could be the father.
Information you might need to provide as evidence to the court might include evidence of a relationship or sexual relationship, a birth certificate, or any other information that might demonstrate an honest and bona fide belief that the parent in question might be the father of the child.
The law on paternity testing in Australia
It is helpful to know the basics of the law surrounding how to get a court-ordered paternity test in Australia as it will help you know in what circumstances a test is allowed and when the court will order one.
Section 69W(b) of the Family Law Act 1975 states that a court can make an order, known as a parentage testing order, on the application of a party to a family court proceeding.
The parentage testing order is for the purposes of determining the parentage of the child and the order requires specific testing procedures for determining the paternity of the child.
Is there a presumption of who the parent is for a child in Australia
A person is presumed to be the parent of a child in Australia under the Family Law Act 1975 if:
- the parents were married at the time the child was born
- the parent’s name appears on the child’s birth certificate
- the parent acknowledged parentage by completing a legal document such as a statutory declaration
- a court has found that the person is the child’s parent
- the person has legally adopted the child
- the couple cohabited at any time during the period beginning 44 week
These are presumptions and are rebutted by the definitive proof of a court-ordered paternity test in Australia.
What is the process of getting a paternity test in Australia
The order will allow for yourself, the other parent, and the child to attend an accredited laboratory for DNA collection.
The laboratory will arrange for testing that is in line with NATA Approval and the Family Law Regulations 1984.
The costs associated with a court-ordered paternity test in Australia are usually around $600 for one man and a child.
Each additional child will cost extra. In Australia, the mother’s approval is required for this test.
The court will be notified of the results and the results will be taken into consideration.
The effect of a parentage test is that if it is proven that the parent in question is a biological parent, they will have standing in parenting proceedings.
This may also mean that a parent is liable for child support payments.
A mother also needs to establish parentage before claiming child support from a relevant parent.
Who should I contact for a paternity test?
If you are seeking help with getting a court-ordered paternity test in Australia, you can contact a family law specialist or a lawyer that specializes in child custody.
You can also find information about child support from Services Australia here.
Legal Aid also has a helpful fact sheet surrounding child support and DNA testing.
Principal of Justice Family Lawyers, Hayder specialises in complex parenting and property family law matters. He is based in Sydney and holds a Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Communications from UTS.