Child paternity disputes
Paternity disputes arise when child paternity is in question. This occurs most often when the mother seeks to obtain maintenance payments from the person she believes is the child’s father. Often, a man may willingly agree to the test if he is convinced he is not the father. In that case, he hopes to “clear his name”.
Where a woman is confident of her child’s paternity, the alleged father may still deny responsibility, hoping to avoid paying maintenance. Sadly, this is a common occurrence in South Africa, where it is estimated that 62% of children under 18 are raised in a household with an absent father.
Occasionally, a man may request a paternity test. He may do this if he believes he is the child’s father but is being denied his legal parental rights. Less commonly, an adult child may seek a paternity test. This is most likely where the child grew up in a household without a father or was adopted.
In determining paternity, the court considers whether or not the mother and father were married or in a relationship at the time of conception. The court may request paternity testing.
Tests currently acknowledged under South African law include:
- Blood Tests
- HLA tissue typing that analyses white blood cells
- DNA testing that can also trace family genealogy
Child paternity tests can be done in every province by the National Health Laboratory Service, as well as many private labs offering DNA testing and other analyses.
Both mother (acting for the child) and father must consent to a test, and both have the right to refuse. However, if a man denies paternity but refuses to undergo a confirmatory test, it raises questions about his credibility. If other evidence suggests strongly that he is the father, the court may take his refusal into account and make a presumption of biological fatherhood.
Want help or advice?
Call us now on 086 099 5146 or contact SD Law