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Children: Maintenance

Volume 468: debated on Thursday 6 December 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what procedures the Child Support Agency has in place to deal with cases of disputed parentage. (167814)

The administration of the Child Support Agency is the matter for the Chief Executive. He will write to the Hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty dated 6 December 2007:

In reply to your recent parliamentary question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and pensions, what procedures the Child Support Agency has in place to deal with cases of disputed parentage. [167814].

When preparing a maintenance assessment for a qualifying child, the Agency can assume parentage if one of a number of conditions are met. S3ection 26 of the Child Support Act 1991 details each of the circumstances in which the Agency can assume parentage.

An alleged non-resident parent can seek to rebut such a presumption via the courts at any time if they so wish, but in the meantime the Agency will proceed with making and enforcing a maintenance assessment. This speeds up the assessment process and helps prevent parentage disputes which only serve to delay the flow of maintenance to the detriment of the children.

In addition the Agency can offer alleged non-resident parents who dispute parentage access to DNA test. However parentage is assumed where the alleged non-resident parent refuses to take a DNA test or the test result shows that they are the parent of the child in question.