Proving who the dad is

Proving who the dad is

Sometimes there is disagreement as to who is the father of the child. The law says that a person is the biological father of the child if:

  • the person is named as the father on the birth certificate or adoption certificate
  • the person signs a statutory declaration (a legal document) saying he is the father
  • the child was born during the marriage or period of living together
  • the person lived with the mother at any time in the period between 44 weeks and 20 weeks before the birth of the child
  • the court makes an order or finding that a person is the father of the child.

Evidence of parentage

Parentage can also be proved or disproved with other evidence. This evidence is usually provided by DNA testing. DNA testing involves comparing a sample (usually a mouth swab) from each parent and from the children. Testing can be done voluntarily or ordered by a court.

Testing for legal purposes must be done by organisations accredited under the Family Law Act 1975 (Commonwealth). For a list of accredited laboratories see National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) – DNA analysis.

If the court orders a test and a person refuses to participate, the court may still make a decision based on the evidence it has before it. The person may be ‘declared’ (named) the father by the court.

It is important to get legal advice if there are disagreements about who is the father. If you delay applying, this could have serious consequences for your case.

More information

Child support agreements

Child support assessment

Child support payments

Family Tax Benefit and child support

Disagree with a child support decision

Adult child maintenance for over-18s

Childbirth expenses

Get help

Find out how you can get help with child support.