The paternity of a child can be established in a number of different ways -
A man can state that he is the father of a child by signing a "Deed of Acknowledgement of Paternity". This must also be signed by the child's mother.
A man is legally presumed to be the father of a child if -
A man could therefore establish his paternity of a child in this way by providing a Court with a copy of the marriage certificate or dissolution order. He might want to do this if, for example, he is separated from the mother and is applying to the Family Court for a parenting order under the Care of Children Act 2004 to give him a role in caring for the child.
However, his status as husband creates only a legal presumption of paternity. A presumption will be decisive if there is no evidence to the contrary. The child's mother may be able to prove â€“ for example, by DNA tests â€“ that the man is not the child's father.
The man named as the father of a child on the child's birth certificate is presumed to be the father. Again, this is only a presumption, and it can be disproved in Court.
A man can be named as the father on the birth certificate in one of two ways -
The Family Court can be asked to resolve a dispute about paternity. A child's mother may ask the Court to make a "paternity order" under the FAMILY PROCEEDINGS ACT 1980 against a man who denies being the father. A man may also ask the Court to make a "declaration of paternity" under the STATUS OF CHILDREN ACT 1969 that he is a child's father, or, if he believes there has been a mistake, that he is not the father.
In certain cases other people can ask the Court to decide a question of paternity.
The High Court can also make declarations of paternity under the STATUS OF CHILDREN ACT 1969.
Applications forms for paternity orders (FP 15) and declarations of paternity (FP 15A) are available on the Family Court website at www.justice.govt.nz/family, under Legislation & legal resources / Forms.
If the Court has been asked to decide a question of paternity, it can recommend that "parentage tests" be carried out. Parentage tests might involve blood samples, or mouth scrapings from both the child and the man.
Both the mother and the man can ask the Court to recommend that parentage tests be carried out.
The man is not legally required to have parentage tests. He can refuse to give blood or other samples, and therefore his DNA will not be able to be tested. However, the Court is entitled to infer what it wishes from the man's refusal.
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