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Paternity uncertainty: New research uncovers shocking reach of misattributed parentage


New research discloses a wave of uncertainty amongst Aussies, who have doubts they are biologically related to their parent or child. With 5% of parents and 6% of children believing they have been impacted by misattributed paternity, Aussies are encouraged to find out the truth through paternity DNA testing.

Unlike women who give birth, men do not have the luxury of knowing that the child is their own without DNA testing, so misattributed paternity can occur when a man is presumed to be a child’s father but is not. In fact, of those who have turned to DNA testing through Identilab after questioning the paternity of a child, approximately 21.5% were excluded as being the biological father.

This comes as around 60% of men and 45% of women admit to having an affair during the course of their marriage, while 70% of all marriages experience an affair. Furthermore, new research by Identilab finds that almost one in five (17%) Australian men have felt deceived as a result of their family dynamic. Betrayal in a romantic relationship causes ongoing trust issues and insecurities which in turn can put question marks around a father’s legitimacy.

Forensic Scientist and Founder of IdentilabKate Pippia, says approximately 92% of their testing is for paternity, whether it’s for peace of mind, family law, or immigration purposes. Families come looking to assess the biological relationship between an alleged father and child and seek answers to remove doubt and find the truth.

“We’ve seen the popularity of paternity testing rise, with it being more accessible and easier to do than previously. So people come to us looking for answers. I think people would be surprised how often a paternity test is required to prove a child and father are related,” Kate says.

Misattributed paternity can be a difficult topic to unpack, often changing a person’s life forever, creating complex relationships and having long-term effects on multiple parties within a family unit and their mental well-being.

“The majority of our customers are often very emotional and overwhelmed by the situation that they have found themselves in. It’s not unusual for us to spend 20-30 minutes on the phone with someone just listening to their story and offering kindness.

“It is very stressful to find yourself in a position where you are questioning whether your child is yours, or whether your parent is yours. A negative result can be received in a variety of ways. Some people are relieved, while others are obviously quite devastated. We often recommend to people that they get in contact with their GP, counselling service, faith leader, or trusted friend to help them process the information and move forward,” Kate explains.

With misattributed paternity occurring across Australia, DNA testing provides men and children the opportunity to get answers. Understandably, any questions surrounding parentage can also have a detrimental psychological impact on both a parent and a child. Identilab urges anyone experiencing doubt and uncertainty about their family dynamic to seek answers through a DNA test and to also seek mental health support where needed. For more information head to

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Ritchelle is a Content Producer for Healthcare Channel, Australia’s premier resource of information for healthcare.


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