Establishing Parentage In Child Support Claims

In circumstances where a parent wishes to claim child support from the child’s other parent, the issue of parentage may arise. This can be a complex legal matter and as such should you either be the parent making the child support claim, or the one the claim for child support is being made against, you should seek the help and advice of a family lawyer.

It has to be said that in the vast majority of cases when a claim for child support is made by one parent against another, there is normally no dispute as to their parentage. Whilst they may not always be happy with the amount that they have been ordered to pay, most at least accept they are responsible for it, given that they know the child is theirs.

However, if there is a dispute, this is normally dealt with by reference to Section 106A or Section 107 of the Child Support Assessment Act of 1989. Specifically, these sections deal with applications made by one parent for the payment of child support and the procedures for the person whom the claim is made against, to dispute it.

The Act also deals with the proof that must exist to establish that a person is actually the parent of the child and that they are liable to pay child support to the other person. The court may regard it as established if evidence can be shown which proves any of the following to be true:

When the child was born, the parents were married to each other
During the period between 44 weeks prior to the child’s birth, and 20 weeks after their birth, the couple were cohabiting
The name of the parent in question is on the child’s birth certificate
Parentage has been acknowledged by the parent signing a statutory document stating the same
They are have legally adopted the child
A court has established and is satisfied that they are the child’s parent
There is a presumption of parentage under the terms of the 1975 Family Law Act

It might be argued that whilst all of these might suggest that someone is a child’s parent in a legal sense, it does not actually prove that they are. However, the court may weigh up this evidence and conclude that an individual is the parent and as such may order them to pay child support.

This argument might be carried forward by the parent who is disputing the claim for child support, and this then leads us to a scenario where they request that a DNA test be carried out.

From a father’s point of view, they are requesting that the DNA test is performed to prove that they are not the child’s parent and as such not liable to pay child support. They must request to the court that they be allowed to have the DNA test and present that evidence to the court. The legal term for this is ‘rebutting the presumption‘.

If the mother of the child refuses to allow them to be submitted for a DNA test, then the father can request that the court issue an order stating that the child’s DNA test be carried out. It could also be that it is the mother that requests a DNA test is carried out to prove the other parent is the father.

A court will regard DNA tests as proof of parentage, or not, as the case may be, and as such it means that they have the irrefutable evidence that establishes parentage.