It is becoming increasingly common for fathers to have to take a DNA test to prove they are (or are not) the biological father. This often happens during maintenance disputes, but what happens whilst this is getting resolved. Can you deny child access until a DNA test is completed?
In England and Wales, Parental Responsibility means you have certain rights and responsibilities for your children. This includes the responsibility to provide basic needs for your children (such as a home), keep them safe, as well as making decisions about their upbringing.
This also means you have a right to make decisions about where you child lives and who with. If you have Parental Responsibility you cannot be denied the right to see your children, unless there is a court order preventing you from doing so.
Who has Parental Responsibility?
Mothers automatically have Parental Responsibility. A father will have Parental Responsibility if:
- He was married to the mother at birth or after
- His name is on the birth certificate (born after 1st December 2003)
Without Parental Responsibility
If the father does not have Parental Responsibility they can be denied access to child until a DNA test is complete.
Getting a DNA test
If there is a dispute over whether he father is the biological father or not, a DNA test can be used to:
- Solve a dispute over child maintenance, or
- Apply for child contact.
You can arrange a DNA test yourself but you will need to use an accredited testing laboratory for the results to be accepted in court. If a court orders you to get a DNA test, you must choose from an accredited testing laboratory. However, if the test is ordered by the Child Maintenance Service, they will tell you which laboratory to use.
What if someone refuses a DNA test?
A DNA sample can only be taken if permission is given from either:
- the person being tested, if they’re an adult
- someone with Parental Responsibility, if the person being tested is under 16
If anyone refuses to take a DNA test, you can ask the court to review your claim regarding parentage. The court can order a DNA test, if they want to.
If you’re having problems regarding the parentage of your children, please contact us in London (West Drayton) on 01895 449288 or in Hertfordshire (St Albans) on 01727 840900 or by email via our contact page.