When applying for a child support assessment, the Department of Human Services – Child Support will require proof of parentage from each parent. This can be provided in a number of ways, as set out in section 29(2) of the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 (Cth). DHS-Child Support can accept any of the following as proof that a person is a parent of a child:
- the child was born during the course of a marriage;
- the person is recorded on the birth certificate as a parent of the child;
- the person has been found to be a parent of the child by a relevant court;
- the person has acknowledged parentage by signing a Statutory Declaration or other instrument;
- the person has adopted the child;
- the father and the mother lived together during the period 44 weeks to 20 weeks before the birth of the child;
- the person is a parent of the child under section 60H (artificial conception procedures) or section 60HB (surrogacy provisions) of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth). This includes children born of same-sex parents who have a child using artificial conception procedures under section 60H.
Determining parentage can be complex, and DNA parentage testing can be used to help resolve uncertainties. Testing for legal purposes must be done by laboratories accredited as required by the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), and using strict procedures that are set out in the Family Law Regulations 1984 (Cth).
DHS-Child Support cannot accept a DNA parentage testing report as proof of parentage. DNA reports can be produced as evidence in a court to obtain a court order stating that a person is, or is not, a parent of a child.
In circumstances where a mother is required by Centrelink to apply for a child support assessment and the application cannot be accepted because there is no proof of paternity, advice should be obtained by calling the Child Support Helpline of the Legal Services Commission on 8111 5576. Assistance may be available to
- contact the alleged father and to ask him to sign a Statutory Declaration stating that he is the father of the child/ren; or
- arrange, where necessary, for parentage testing to be carried out to determine paternity;
- seek an order of the court for a declaration of paternity, where necessary.
If a father is concerned that he is assessed to pay child support for a child who is not his child, he should obtain legal advice as soon as possible by calling the Child Support Helpline on 8111 5576. Assistance may be available to
- arrange parentage testing where appropriate;
- make an application to a court for a declaration that a payee is not entitled to receive child support from the payer;
- seek a court order to recover monies already paid.
Legal advice should be sought promptly in relation to any matters involving disputed parentage. Delay in bringing an application can adversely affect the legal rights of the parties.
Where to get help
Free independent legal advice can be obtained from the Child Support Help Line on (08) 8111 5576.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.