Around 3,000 paternity tests are conducted every year in Australia (Australian Law Reform Commission). Given the quick results and increasing accuracy of DNA tests it is becoming a pretty simple matter to determine paternity. This makes it easier for fathers to make sure the child they are raising is their own, for mothers to seek child support from the father, or for adopted children to find their father. Often this can be a do it yourself kit at home, involving a mouth swab that can be sent to small laboratories for a few hundred dollars.
However in these scenarios the father probably wants to know the child’s paternity. What if they don’t? Can you refuse to take a paternity test?
Of course you can refuse a DIY home kit, but things get more complicated when they are court ordered. A court won’t accept a paternity test that is not accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) who ensure “the technical proficiency of genetic testing”. So when a family law matter arises in court, the court may order a paternity test through a NATA accredited laboratory. A court order is technically mandatory, but when it comes to paternity tests the court can’t force you to take one. So yes, you can refuse a paternity test.
However this leaves a court open to take whatever inference appears just in the circumstances. So the court may decide that refusal indicates that you already know you’re the father. The judge can then declare you as the father. This means that refusing to take a paternity test may not always be in your best interests.
To help figure out what is the best option for you to take in a family law matter where paternity is an issue, or if you need help to get child support, make an appointment to speak with one of our lawyers on (02) 6223 2400. There are many different options to resolving disputes in family law, and we can talk you through them. Most or all it is important that you have a good understanding of your rights under the law and have been given professional legal advice.