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Order Requiring Paternity Test Served on a Man via Facebook

A federal Magistrate recently held that a court ordered paternity test could be served on an elusive father via Facebook.

Parental Responsibilities: Child Support

Under Australian law, both parents have an equal duty to financially support their children until they attain 18 years of age regardless of the status of their relationship, unless there are compelling reasons why they should not share that responsibility.

The amount of child support a parent is required to pay can be affected by the amount of time they spend with their children, however even parents who do not see their children at all are still required to pay child support.

Parents’ past conduct in relation to their children is now taken into account by the court when making child orders. In deciding what the best interests of the child are, the fulfilment or non-fulfilment of parental obligations, including the payment of failure to pay child support, is a relevant consideration. This means that a parent’s failure to pay child support may affect their right to see their children.

Proof of Parentage

Where a person questions whether they are the biological parent of a child, this can often be a trigger for a child support payment dispute. This can be resolved through DNA testing.

DNA testing can be conducted by consent or by court order, whereby people can be ordered to provide samples for DNA testing in order to determine parentage.

Paternity Test Served on Facebook

In a recent child support dispute in South Australia the Court decided that an order requiring a man who is presumed to be the father of the child to undergo a paternity test could be served on him via Facebook, as all other attempts at service had failed.

This background to this case is that when the mother of the child applied for child support, her application was rejected on the basis that there was a lack of proof of paternity since no father was named on the child’s birth certificate. She subsequently made requests that the man who she believed to be the father of the child undergo a paternity test, however she never received replied to her requests as the man moved frequently.

Attempts were made to reach him via his parents and current girlfriend however these also resulted in no reply. Furthermore, process servers were unsuccessful in delivering documents. Despite this, the man was known to be an avid user of the popular social networking site, Facebook. The federal Magistrate justified his decision as being ‘demonstrative of social movements and the currency of the times’, however he commented on the extraordinary nature of this case.

The Magistrate ordered that that the order to undergo a paternity test be served on him via Facebook, in a private message only he would be able to access. The Magistrate found that he had been properly served with the documents and, as a result, ordered that he pay the mother child support. The lack of reply was taken to mean that the man wanted no involvement because the test would confirm he was the father of the child.

Act Immediately

There are strict time limits for contesting child assessments made by the Child Support Agency. It is important to obtain legal advice immediately if you wish to object to a decision made, particularly if you wish to contest on the basis of paternity.

The information featured in this article should not be relied upon in place of legal advice. For advice on paternity disputes, child support matters or family law generally, do not hesitate to contact us.