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When is a paternity test required and can a man refuse?

When paternity is denied by an alleged father, it is usually to avoid the responsibility of paying maintenance for the child. The mother may approach the Children’s Court for a paternity test.

If a court requests a paternity test, both parents have to consent and both have the right to refuse. However, if a man denies paternity and refuses to undergo a confirmatory paternity test, it raises questions about his credibility. If there is other evidence that points to him being the father, the court will take this into account and make a presumption of fatherhood.

The Supreme Court of Appeal has held that it is within the power of the High Court as the upper guardian of children to order scientific tests if it is in the best interests of a child. This would overrule a man’s refusal to undergo a paternity test.


Simon Dippenaar | SD Law Cape Town

Cape Town attorney Simon Dippenaar has a BBusSc LLB degree and Professional Diploma in Legal Practice from the University of Cape Town, and is an admitted attorney of the High Court of South Africa. He is the founder and director of private legal practice, Simon Dippenaar & Associates, with offices in Cape Town and Gauteng representing South African and international clients.

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