DNA Testing – Obtaining A Court Order
The Appeal Court of the Family Court recently considered an appeal by the husband against the trial judge’s decision refusing to order DNA testing to establish parentage of a child.
The facts were:
- The parties were married and there was one child born during the marriage. At the date of trial the child was 17 years old.
- After separation, the child resided with the wife.
- The child was treated throughout the marriage as a child of the marriage and since separation the husband had paid child support.
The trial judge determined that the husband had not provided adequate evidence to overcome the “presumption of parentage” arising from “the marriage”.
The husband appealed claiming that the court had not obtained the “best available evidence” by not ordering DNA testing.
The appeal court rejected the husband’s appeal stating that:
- In parentage testing applications in Australia the “best interests” of the child are the paramount consideration where “parenting orders” are also sought.
- In this case, “parenting orders” were not sought and therefore the application failed as the court had no jurisdiction to consider the application.
Beyond that, the court was of the view that “there must be few cases where the interests of children can be shown to be best served by the suppression of truth (i.e not obtaining scientific evidence)”.
The court failed to see the “best interests of the child” being served by the paternity of a child being challenged, without compelling reasons, when the child is 17 years of age.
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