Despite that rather insensitive introduction, a paternity test is obviously an extremely sensitive topic. Thankfully, in Australia, you won’t end up on The Maury Show with millions soaking in all the drama. Instead, paternity tests are deliberated in a far more formal setting: The Federal Circuit and Family Court (‘FCFCOA’).

Both sides of the proceedings are given the opportunity to be heard fairly, with the court then coming to a conclusion based on various factors. Essentially, the court will consider whether such a test is necessary and whether there is a chance you are in fact, not the father.

What is a court-ordered paternity test?

A court-ordered paternity test is called a ‘parentage testing procedure’. With this order in hand, you may visit an authorized DNA laboratory and participate in the relevant testing procedures. There is a cost, around $500-600 per procedure (which includes two samples. The court will likely order a certain party pay, which is sometimes based on who wanted the test.

The Family Law Act mandates that the court may also make an order which requires a ‘parentage testing procedure’ be conducted to identify the parents of the child in question.

This test could be conducted on the mother, child, or any other person the court considers useful in determining the parents of the child.

There are a number of “presumptions of parentage” that need to be addressed before a parentage test can proceed. These include:

  • the parents were married
  • the parents were cohabiting
  • both parents are on the birth certificate
  • a court has made a finding that the persons are parents of the child
  • where the father has acknowledged parentage through executing a document

How to request a paternity test through the Family Court

Paternity tests can be requested through the court by submitting an application.

If someone requests a paternity test, they will need to provide evidence to the court. The applicant would need to provide proof of things such as:

  • other relationships of the mother’s, including any one-off sexual encounters
  • the relationship not being a de-facto relationship at the time
  • the father’s other relationships
  • evidence of a lack of co-habitation
  • any other relevant factors which may suggest that a father is or isn’t the biological parent

There are several implications of a positive paternity test – these may be good or bad, depending on your perspective. They include child support payments and parenting proceedings (i.e. who has standing to apply for parenting orders).

Child support

Child support is generally paid by one of the biological parents and calculated based upon the financial circumstances of both biological parents. If a father is proven to be the biological parent, he will likely be required to pay child support. Conversely, if a father is proven to not be the biological parent, he may no longer need to pay for child support, and be able to claim back funds previously paid. Although, this may not apply where ‘equitable paternity’ is proven, being a situation where a non-biological father has nevertheless had a central role in the child’s life.

Parenting proceedings

Naturally, a child’s two biological parents have the right to participate in parenting proceedings to determinate what a child’s arrangements will be. Therefore, a positive paternity test reflects a conclusive right of participation. Likewise, if a father is proven to not be the biological parent, it significantly decreases their right to participate, if not eliminating it altogether.

Any scenario which involves a paternity test is likely going to be emotional and traumatic for all involved, given the close ties a parent has with their child. We can help to make this process as smooth as possible for you, so that you can achieve exactly the outcome you’re after, and ensure your rights are maintained.

At Turnbull Hill Lawyers, we have an expert and trusted Family Law team who specialise in matters such as this. If you’re in Sydney, the Central Coast Newcastle, or the Hunter Valley, please get into contact with us.

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