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Proof of parentage

If you’re unsure or disagree about who is the child’s biological father, there are laws to help prove the child’s parentage and to make sure you receive adequate support services. Get legal advice.

Disagreements about who is the child’s father

Sometimes there is uncertainty or disagreement about who is the child’s father. The law says a person is the child’s biological father if:

  • they’re named as the father on the birth certificate or adoption certificate
  • they sign a statutory declaration (a legal document) saying they’re the father
  • the child was born during the marriage
  • the child was born within 44 to 20 weeks of when the mother and father lived together
  • the court makes a declaration (finding) that a person is a child’s father and/or that a person  is liable to pay child support for a child.

What the law says about who is the father can sometimes be proven wrong with other evidence, such as DNA testing.

DNA testing

DNA testing is generally accepted as the most accurate method of proving or disproving parentage.  

DNA testing involves collecting a sample (usually a mouth swab) from each parent and child. The DNA from each sample is then compared. Testing can be done voluntarily, or it can be ordered by a court.

Testing for legal purposes must comply with the regulations outlined in the Family Law Act 1975.  There are a number of organisations who can provide this service.

The Department of Human Services (Child Support) (DHS) can’t accept a DNA parenting testing report as proof that someone is or is not the child’s father. It will only accept a declaration from the court. The DNA testing result can be presented in court and the court can make a declaration stating a person is or is not a child’s father.

If the court orders DNA testing and a person refuses to participate, the court may still make a declaration stating that a person is a child’s father and/or that a person should pay child support for a child based on other evidence presented.

It’s important you get legal advice if there are disagreements about who is a child’s father. If you delay in making an application, this could have serious consequences for your case.

How do I prove I am not the father?

If you think you’re not the biological father of a child the DHS is assessing you pay child support for, you can apply to a court for a declaration under s107 of the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989

You’ll need to prove to the court you are not the biological father with DNA testing that complies with the regulations outlined in the Family Law Act 1975.

Get legal advice.

How do I prove who is the father?

If the DHS won’t accept your application for child support because you don’t have proof of paternity, you may need a declaration from a court under s106A of the Child Support Assessment Act 1989 stating you are entitled to child support.

If you’re receiving Centrelink payments for a child Centrelink needs you to take reasonable action to get child support or you may lose some of your Centrelink payments. .

We may be able to help you obtain proof of paternity. Contact us for more information and legal advice.

Do I need legal advice?

You may need legal advice if you have concerns about:

  • who is a child’s biological parent
  • DNA testing
  • providing proof of paternity.

Get legal advice

We can give legal advice about child support matters.  

The following organisations may be able to give legal advice.

Caxton Community Legal Centre — gives specialist legal advice on child support for carer parents and liable (paying) parents.

Gold Coast Legal Service — gives legal advice on child support.

Queensland Law Society— can refer you to a specialist private solicitor for advice or representation.

Who else can help?

These organisations may also be able to help. They don’t provide legal advice.

Department of Human Services (Child Support) — administers the child support scheme to make sure parents contribute to the costs of raising children after separation. They give support and help to parents, including calculating, collecting and transferring child support payments.

Federal Circuit Court — makes decisions about a range of issues including child support matters.

DNA testing services — can provide paternity testing that complies with the regulations outlined in the Family Law Act 1975. Fees apply for these services.

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