Disagreements about parentage
When someone denies they’re the parent of a child, the Child Maintenance Service will:
- ask them for evidence proving they’re not the parent
- tell the other parent what’s happened and ask for evidence to prove parentage
If there’s no evidence to prove they’re not the parent, the Child Maintenance Service can:
- ask both parents to take a DNA test
- ask the courts to make a decision
The Child Maintenance Service can assume parentage if the person named as the parent:
- was married to the child’s mother at any time between the conception and birth of the child (unless the child was adopted)
- is named on the child’s birth certificate (unless the child was adopted)
- has taken a DNA test that shows they’re the parent
- has legally adopted the child
- is named in a court order as the parent when the child was born to a surrogate mother
If parentage is assumed, they’ll work out a child maintenance amount. The person named as the parent has to pay this until they can prove that they’re not the parent.
Paying child maintenance during a disagreement
When a child maintenance amount has already been worked out, the person named as the parent has to pay until they can provide evidence they’re not the parent.
When the amount has not been worked out, the service managing the case will not work it out or ask for payment until the disagreement has been sorted out.
If the person is found to be the parent, the amount of child maintenance they have to pay will be back-dated.
Named person proves they’re not the parent
When this happens, the Child Maintenance Service may:
- refund any payments made after the date they first denied they were the parent, or offset the amount against maintenance for another child
- refund the cost of any DNA tests arranged through the service
They may also ask the other parent to pay back any child maintenance.
Refunds depend on the circumstances of each case.