Government funding has been made available once again to help cover the cost of paternity testing, but financial assistance will only be given in private law cases that involve children and are heard in the family courts.
Since the end of November, Cafcass and Cafcass Cymru have powers, in special circumstances, to organise and pay for DNA tests under section 20 of the Family Law Reform Act 1969.
The move will be overseen by a partnership between Cafcass and DNA Legal, as part of efforts to ensure family cases are dealt with more efficiently through the court system.
DNA Legal is laboratory that has been approved by the Government to provide testing and support for the new initiative on a national basis.
However, the funded service will only be made available if three criteria are met, which are:
- An application has been made for a Child Arrangements order under section 8 of the Children Act 1989
- The application cannot be determined unless a dispute about the paternity of the child is resolved
- The parents or persons responsible for care of the child are prepared to cooperate with the direction made by the court
Any results obtained from the new service will be sent to the courts within six weeks of a fully completed court order being received.
However, testing will not be provided in cases where child maintenance is being disputed or if those involved are eligible for legal aid.
David Nicholson, a representative for DNA Legal, said: “Working together in partnership has meant that Courts are now able to request testing and this is completed in an efficient, cost effective manor supporting thousands of individuals who find themselves needing to establish paternity each year.”