Guideline 4 − parentage determinations

Guideline 4 − parentage determinations

The parentage of a child may need to be determined in disputes relating to parenting, child support, child maintenance or adult child maintenance, where the person seeking assistance either:

Legal assistance may be available under this guideline to:

  • apply for or oppose a finding of parentage by a court
    and/or
  • apply for an order from a court for the male party to undergo parentage testing.

Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) may make a grant of legal assistance to apply for or respond to an application for the determination of the parentage of a child where:

  1. parentage is an issue in a dispute relating to child support, child maintenance or adult child maintenance and the person has sought and is unable to obtain assistance from our Child Support Legal Service or a community legal centre
    or
  2. the person has been, or will be funded by us in relation to another Commonwealth family law matter, for example for a parenting dispute
    and
  3. the following threshold tests are met:

and

  1. a party to the dispute denies that a male party is the child’s father
    and
  2. where the person seeking assistance is the male party and he denies he is the father of the child, the person:
    1. can provide adequate reasons in support of his denial
      and
    2. agrees to undergo parentage testing.

The following are examples of adequate reasons in support of a denial of parentage:

  • there is good reason to believe that the male party is infertile
  • the male party had no contact with the mother that could have potentially resulted in conception, for example because he was interstate, overseas or in custody
  • there is good reason to believe that the mother of the child had other sexual partners during the time when conception was likely to have occurred.

Determining parentage in disputes about who a child lives with, or spends time with

In disputes about who the child lives with, or spends time with (parenting disputes), the person applying for legal assistance is not required to first seek assistance from the Child Support Legal Service.

Legal assistance will generally not be available to a male party to determine parentage, when the facts suggest that he plays a significant role in the child's care and/or welfare. For information on how to determine this, see the Notes on the Commonwealth Family Law and Child Support Guidelines.

Conditions

When a fee is claimed for the client’s share of the cost of parentage testing and the outcome favours the client, the lawyer is usually required to seek an order from the court for the other party to pay the full cost of the testing. For more information, refer to costs recovery.

Fees available

For information about fees available for a grant under this guideline, see Stage 2A – application for determination of parentage, Magistrates' Court.

Documentary requirements

Applications for assistance under this guideline are within the simplified grants process and are submitted through our online lodgment service ATLAS. Lawyers submitting an application must ensure that evidence supporting the application is kept on the file.

Ongoing assessment that client meets the guidelines

The lawyer must inform us if, at any point during the life of the grant, they are no longer satisfied that the client meets the guideline, including the Commonwealth merits test and the substantial issue in dispute test.

Notes on this guideline

For commentary and examples on the eligibility criteria, grants assessment process, documentary requirements and fees and billing relevant to this guideline, see the Notes on guideline 4.