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Paternity

Paternity orders

What is a paternity order?

Family Proceedings Act 1980, ss 47–53

A paternity order is an order made by the Family Court stating that the court is satisfied that a man is the father of a child. Paternity orders are conclusive evidence of paternity for the purposes of child support and applications for benefits.

Who can apply for a paternity order?

Family Proceedings Act 1980, s 471

The mother of a child (and in some circumstances, someone else on behalf of the mother) can apply to the Family Court for a paternity order.

Who can a paternity order be made against?

Family Proceedings Act 1980, s 47

An application for a paternity order can only be made against a man who:

  • is not and has never been married to, or in a civil union with, the mother of the child, or
  • has been married to, or in a civil union with, the mother of the child, but this relationship was dissolved before the conception of the child.

Time limits for applying for a paternity order

Family Proceedings Act 1980, s 49

As a general rule, applications for paternity orders must be made within six years of the child’s birth. A later application may be made in the following circumstances:

  • if at any time before the application is made the man has admitted he is the child’s father, or
  • if within the two years before the application the man has either:
  • lived with the mother as if he were her husband or civil union partner, or
  • contributed towards the maintenance of the child (this can include financial support or gifts).

Can a paternity order declare that a man is not the child’s father?

Family Proceedings Act 1980, s 51

Yes. If the court is satisfied that a man is not the father of the child it can make an order declaring that he is not the father of the child. The court can do this on its own initiative or on the application of one of the parties.

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