Dealing with Disputes about Parentage

Child Maintenance Services have set procedures to deal with disagreements over parentage. Check how assumed parentage works and the process for paying child maintenance during a dispute.

It is not uncommon for someone to deny they are the parent of a child. In cases such as these, the Child Maintenance Service (or CSA) will:

  • Ask the person to provide evidence that proves they are not the parent.
  • Pass details of the dispute over to the other parent and ask them to provide evidence that proves parentage.

In cases where no evidence exists to prove the person is not the parent, the Child Maintenance Service or CSA can:

  • Make a request for both parents to get a DNA test.
  • Refer the case to the courts and ask a court to make a decision.

How Assumed Parentage Works

There are certain cases whereby the Child Maintenance Service or the CSA can assume parentage. It would apply to a case if the person named as the parent:

  • Was married to the mother of the child at any time between conception and the birth. Exceptions apply to child adoption cases.
  • Is one of the persons named on the birth certificate of the child (unless adopted).
  • Has already had DNA testing and it shows that they are the child’s parent.
  • Has been through the legal child adoption process and adopted the child.
  • Is a person named in a court order as the parent when the child was born to a surrogate mother.

As a rule, CMS will work out an amount of child maintenance in cases of assumed parentage. The person named as the parent must pay it until they can provide proof that they are not the parent.

Paying Child Maintenance during a Dispute

The person named as the parent must continue paying the amount that the CMS or the CSA already worked out for them.

The situation differs if the service managing the case does not work out the payment amount. They will not ask for any money until the parents reach an agreement on parentage of the child.

Note: The service will back-date the maintenance payments if evidence proves that the person is the parent

If the Named Person Provides Proof

What happens if the named person proves they are not the parent of the child? As a rule, the Child Maintenance Service, or the CSA, will:

  • Make a refund of any payments made after the date that they first denied they were the parent. In some cases, they will offset the amount against any support payments for another child.
  • Refund the cost of getting DNA tested if it was the service managing the case that arranged it.

Note: The circumstances of each case will determine whether refunds are available. The service can also ask the other parent to pay back any child support payments.


Using the Child Maintenance Service | A guide for parents who cannot agree on child support payments.

How to Arrange Child Maintenance Yourself | Check some advantages of using family-based arrangements.

How Child Maintenance Services Deal with Disagreements Over Parentage