Paternity establishes who the father of a child is. Applications of this kind require sensitivity given the issue goes directly to the issue of the child's identity and can lead to other consequences, including child support.

In New Zealand law there are presumptions about who the father is. However, these legal presumptions of paternity can be disproved. Our experience is that paternity applications can be made in the Family Court for a number of reasons. A mother may apply for a paternity order under the Family Proceedings Act 1980 because the father has refused to acknowledge paternity and sign the birth registration form. A man may apply for a declaration as to paternity under the Status of Children Act 1969 because he has not been formally named as the father of the child. Alternatively, a man who has been named formally as the child's father may ask the Court to make a declaration that he is not the father, where he has reason to believe that he is not the father of the child.

Where applications are made regarding paternity, the Court can recommend that "parentage tests" be carried out which involve the parties and the child providing a DNA sample for testing to determine the issue of paternity. The Court cannot force the parties to undergo parentage testing, but it can draw inferences from that parties' refusal.

Dealing with paternity applications requires consideration of long term implications as well as immediate concerns. We can help you with paternity issues with both discretion and full awareness of the issues.

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