Scientific (DNA) tests within family proceedings
Scientific (DNA) tests within family proceedings

The following Family guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Scientific (DNA) tests within family proceedings
  • General principles
  • The court’s powers
  • Interests of the child
  • Consent and compliance
  • Procedure
  • Case law guidance

Under Part III of the Family Law Reform Act 1969 (FLRA 1969), in civil proceedings in which the parentage of any person falls to be determined, the court may direct the use of scientific tests to assist in determining paternity, either of its own motion or on an application by any party to the proceedings. There is no freestanding power to direct scientific (DNA) tests and there must be civil proceedings within which the parentage issue arises.

A DNA test can be used to either:

  1. prove that two people definitely are not related

  2. show the probability (up to 99.99%) that two people are related

General principles

The directing of tests was extended from blood samples to include deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) samples by the Blood Tests (Evidence of Paternity) (Amendment) Regulations 1989, SI 1989/776 (SI 1989/776) (which amended the Blood Tests (Evidence of Paternity) Regulations 1971 (SI 1971/1861), SI 1971/1861, Sch 1). This gave the court the power to direct the use of samples other than blood.

DNA contains an individual's genetic characteristics as transmitted by their parents. Each parent contributes half the genetic material, but the child is a unique individual. These characteristics mean that a DNA test can positively identify a person's parents, but the accuracy of DNA testing depends on the skill of the person conducting the test. Samples of bodily fluid other