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Where parentage is disputed DNA testing can be used and is very effective. The dispute is often about who is the father of the child. However, the cost of paying for the tests is expensive and has often stopped parties using this service which frequently results in longer court cases.

Examples of where these disputes arise and come to court are: where a parent is refusing to allow the other parent to see the child and where a parent is refusing to provide financial support alleging he/she is not a parent.

From September 2015 Judges in Family Courts will have the power to order these tests which will be funded by CAFCASS (a government agency). The Justice Minister Simon Hughes announced this on 17th February. The government hope this will help to save courts time and money. Also it says this will help judges to feel more confident in their decisions and that parents are more likely to honour any court orders.

The dispute has to get to court before the government will help with the costs. That is unfortunate especially as the government says it is committed to other means of resolving disputes before they get to court eg Family Mediation, but have not provided free DNA testing to support these other means.

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