Finding yourself in the position where a current or former partner is requesting proof that he is, or is not, the parent of your child can be extremely distressing. It's possible to buy relatively cheap and accurate DNA testing kits from a number of laboratories in the UK, but if you want to fight your child's alleged father's bid to discover the truth, you'll need to be prepared for a potentially costly legal process. This could end in you being ordered to submit to DNA testing. Talk to your GP about receiving counselling before making any hasty decisions.
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If the paternity of your child is the subject of a legal motion brought by either you or your current or former partner, the court dealing with your case will have the statutory authority to direct that DNA samples be taken from all necessary parties and tested under section 20 of the Family Law Reform Act 1969. Court-ordered paternity testing must be carried out by a body accredited by the Ministry of Justice. Paternity can be excluded by testing only the child and the alleged father. Samples must be tested from the mother, the child and the alleged father to prove a child is related to a putative father.
Child Support Agency
The Child Support Agency and the Child Maintenance Service can also request DNA tests to sort out any disagreements about the parentage of your child. If you refuse to comply with their requests, they can ask the courts to compel you to cooperate. If it's proven that the alleged father is not the biological parent of your child, the agency dealing with your case may refund any maintenance payments he has already made.
Under the terms of the Human Tissue Act 2004, all parties involved in a paternity test must give their consent to being tested. If your child is not competent to consent or is competent but fails to deal with the issue, you, as the person with parental responsibility for your child, will be required to provide consent on her behalf. If you refuse, the court may order the test to go ahead. If you fail to facilitate the supply of a tissue sample from your child, the court dealing with your case may draw inferences from your refusal to comply with its orders.
The shared parenting campaign group Families Need Fathers quote a case from Family Law Reports where a judge ruled that going ahead with a paternity test would cause undue distress to the child involved. The charity also quotes cases where paternity was proven, but where courts decided that children should not be informed of the results in the interests of their well-being, of that of other family members.
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- Ministry of Justice: Paternity testing (court-directed)
- NHS: Can I get a paternity test on the NHS?
- Gov.uk: DNA tests
- Gov.uk: Disagreements about parentage
- Human Tissue Authority: Consent and the use of DNA FAQs
- Forsters.co.uk: Paternity testing
- RCS Solicitors: Paternity law and DNA testing
- Families Need Fathers: Paternity law
- Jordan Publishing: Family Law Reports