When can the family court order parentage testing?

Posted on May 27, 2021 by Matthew Carney   |   Categories: Family Law

If the parentage of a child is “in issue” in proceedings under the Family Law Act, the court may make an order requiring a parentage testing procedure to be carried out to help determine the child’s parentage.

An application for parentage testing can only be made during family law proceedings for example where an application is being made for a child to spend time with a parent or in association with Child Support proceedings. The Court does not have the power to make a paternity declaration where there were no other court proceedings.

The court can make an order for a parentage testing procedure at the request of a party to the proceedings, at the request of a party representing the child or on its own initiative.

The Family Court has stated that an order should not be made so that a father can satisfy their doubts about a child’s paternity and stated:

“There must be some real issue as to paternity, some evidence which places the paternity of the child in doubt, before a court can embark upon the process of subjecting the child to the procedures for paternity testing and making an order for that purpose.”

The Family Court of Australia further stated:

“It is not a proper use of the section to allow a fishing expedition by way of paternity tests… in situations where there is no real evidence to place the paternity of the child in issue.”

The family Court will however make an order if there is an honest, bona fide and reasonable doubt about whether a person is a parent of the child.

The Family Court of Australia must also take into consideration a child’s best interests when considering making an order for parentage testing.

If the Family Court orders that a parenting test be undertake, and, if a parent refuses to undertake the test, an inference can be drawn from their refusal that it is more probable than not that the outcome of the test would be unfavourable to that parent and would lead to the finding that, they are the parent of the child.

If you have any questions regarding parentage testing or any associated family law matter please contact our firm to make an appointment with Matthew Carney an accredited specialist in family law on (02) 4944 3322.