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The Government of Australia
Attorney-General's Department

Media Release 042/2005, 17 March 2005

GOVERNMENT ACTS ON CHILD MAINTENANCE RECOVERY IN CASES OF PATERNITY FRAUD

The Government has acted this week to enable people who, through the use of DNA testing, have found they are not the parent of a child to recover child maintenance payments.

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said legislation introduced in the Parliament yesterday would address the issue of people who had wrongly believed they were the parent of a child.

He said the Family Law Amendment Bill 2005 would allow that person to recover any child maintenance paid or property transferred under an order of a court under the Family Law Act 1975.

“The bill is intended to make it easier for people who find themselves in this position to take recovery action without the need to initiate separate proceedings for an order from a court of civil jurisdiction, such as a State, Local or Magistrates court,” he said.

Mr Ruddock said the amendment would apply retrospectively to cover payments made before start of the new provisions.

“This Bill applies to orders for support of children such as step-children, dependent children who are 18 years and older, and children who were born, or whose parents separated, before the child support assessment scheme came into effect in 1989,” Mr Ruddock said.

Existing legislation already allows for recovery of amount paid through arrangements with the Child Support Agency.

Mr Ruddock said the Government made recent changes to parentage testing procedures would reduce the risk of inaccuracy and fraud by tightening up the identification aspects of these procedures.

The Government' s procedures also ensure the best interests of the child are taken into account in considering whether a genetic sample should be taken from a child.

The Victorian Supreme Court today handed its decision in Magill v Magill [2005] VSCA 51.

“It is not appropriate for me to comment on that case except to note the action the Government has taken in relation to paternity fraud,” he said.

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