On 28 November 2011, Nine MSN reported that an Australian mother has been forced to pay her ex-husband almost $13,000 in previously paid child support after the father secretly had a DNA test done and confirmed that he was not the father of his 14 year old son.
In Court, the father stated that he had sought the DNA test because the mother herself had raised doubts about the child’s parentage since the child was four years old.
The father also had his own doubts about the boy’s parentage, due to catching the mother in a “compromising position” with a neighbour.
Since the man separated from the child’s mother in January 2009, he has had no contact with the teenager, who was born in 1995. Sadly, the Court heard that the teenager still regards the man as his father.
Federal Magistrate Scarlett said: “Effectively, he is now without a father, through no fault of his own”. He also said: “The Applicant’s desire to find out the truth about the child’s paternity will result in a financial benefit to him, at the expense of collateral damage to the child”.
If following separation, a father is asked to pay child support, he can seek to object to this on the grounds that he is not the biological father of the child.
In addition to secretly getting a DNA test done, some fathers seek an Order from the Court that a DNA test be done. The Court is not obliged to make this Order but must consider if allowing the DNA test is in the “best interests” of the child. However, often the Court finds it is in the child’s best interests to have paternity determined. However, this case raises the question of whether it actually is in the child’s bests interests for them to know who their biological parent is. As Federal Magistrate Scarlett has pointed out, this particular child is now essentially fatherless and will be financially disadvantaged due to having no child support payments.
At the same time, I can understand the point of view that some men may have, that they should not be asked to pay child support for a child that is not biologically theirs and they have a right to have this fact determined.
On the other hand though, fathers should be aware that if they are going to seek to have parental responsibility for a child, they can also be ordered to pay child support. With parental responsibility comes the responsibility to pay child support. However, for fathers that do not have a relationship with a child as was the case in this matter, having a DNA test to show this may be an attractive option.
If you have any further questions regarding child support, or DNA tests, please do not hesitate to contact our office.