November 10, 2020

DNA Testing & Parentage

By Michael Boal, Senior Associate

There are a number of different reasons why people may want to undertake DNA testing. It could be that:

  1. Somebody wants to prove that they are the biological father of a child.
  2. Somebody wants to prove that they are not the biological father of a child.
  3. There is a need to end a dispute about whether someone is the biological father of a child.

The Family Law Act allows the family law courts to make an order for a ‘parentage testing procedure’, commonly known as a DNA test in order to determine who the biological parents of a child are.


The Family Law Regulations place strict requirements on laboratories that carry out DNA testing. There are a number of companies that sell ‘DIY DNA testing kits’ that may not meet these requirements. The results of these tests may not be accepted by the family law courts.


In some cases, a DNA test may not be necessary. The Family Law Act states that a person may be presumed to be the parent of a child in a number of circumstances, including where:

  1. A child is born during a marriage.
  2. A child is born and the mother was living with a man between 20 weeks and 44 weeks before the child’s birth.
  3. A person is listed on the birth certificate as the parent of a child.
  4. A court has determined that a person is the parent of a child.
  5. A man has signed a legal instrument that acknowledges that he is the father of a child.

If a person is presumed to be a parent of a child and they do not believe that they are the parent, they would need to produce evidence to disprove that presumption. Similarly, if a person is not presumed to be a parent but they believe they are the parent, they would need to produce evidence to disprove the presumption that another person is the parent.


The family law courts will not ordinarily order a DNA test unless there is objective evidence that establishes that the parentage of a child is in doubt. The family law courts do not ordinarily order a DNA test just to satisfy a potential parents personal doubts or suspicions.


Becoming a parent gives rise to a number of legal rights and responsibilities, including rights and responsibilities relating to:

  1. The care of the child.
  2. The financial support of the child, which is known as child support.
  3. The financial support of the other parent, which is known as spousal maintenance or de facto partner maintenance .

If you have concerns about parentage, or you are considering DNA testing, we recommend you obtain advice from one of our experienced lawyers before taking action.


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