For DNA paternity or maternity test results to be admissible for legal purposes, such as for changing a birth certificate, Family Law Court proceedings, visa/citizenship applications or child support claims, the process undertaken needs to comply with the Family Law Regulations 1984 (Cth). This legislation outlines the way in which samples must be collected, packaged and tested. Because samples collected for peace-of-mind testing do not satisfy these requirements, the results obtained cannot be used for legal purposes.
Summarised parentage testing requirements of the Family Law Regulations 1984 (Cth)
The parentage testing procedure must be carried out:
“…at a laboratory that is accredited by NATA for the purpose of carrying out parentage testing procedures; and in accordance with standards of practice that entitle the laboratory to be so accredited.”
The person collecting the bodily sample (the sampler) from a participant must be:
“…a registered medical practitioner…” or “…employed by a hospital, a pathology practice, a parentage testing practice or a registered medical practitioner for the purpose of taking a bodily sample from a donor.”
The person providing a DNA sample (the donor) must have:
“…immediately before the sampler takes the bodily sample, completed an affidavit in accordance with Form 2 in Schedule 1, to which is attached a recent photograph of the donor named in the affidavit…” and “…provided to the sampler a recent photograph of the donor… that shows a full face view of the donor’s head and the donor’s shoulders.”
If the donor is under the age of 18 years, or a person who is incapable of signing due to mental disability, the affidavit must be completed by:
“…a person who is responsible for the long‑term care, welfare and development of the child/person suffering from a mental disability.”
To satisfy the chain-of-custody requirements and ensure the samples aren’t tampered with:
“…the sampler must ensure that the sample is placed in a container immediately after it is taken; and in the presence of the donor.” The container must “be sealed in a way that, if it were opened after being sealed, that fact would be evident on inspection of the container.”
After taking the sample, the sampler must:
“…complete a statement in accordance with Form 4 in Schedule 1; and affix the photograph of the donor to the statement; and sign his or her name partly on the photograph and partly on the statement in a way that, if the photograph were later removed from the statement, the removal would be evident from inspection of the statement.”
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Family Law Regulations 1984 (Cth)