Community Legal Information Association of Prince Edward Island (CLIA PEI) - Legal Information for Youth

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CLIA Family Law Information

It is usually easy to establish maternity, or the identity of the mother of a child. Determining paternity, or the identity of the father of a child, is sometimes more difficult.

Sometimes a man may be uncertain or may deny that he is the parent of a child. The PEI Child Status Act lists a number of circumstances in which a man will be presumed to be the father of a child. These include:

  • if he was married to or living with the child's mother when she became pregnant (within 300 days of the birth)
  • if he was married to or living with the child's mother when the child was born
  • if he marries the mother of the child after the birth and states that he is the natural father
  • if he signs the birth registration form (Statement of Birth) as the child's father

Tissue tests, regular blood tests and DNA tests are available to prove or disprove paternity. Regular blood tests cannot prove that someone is a parent of a child, but they can show if a person is not the parent. Tissue tests and DNA tests are done on a body tissue or blood sample. Both permit a very accurate assessment of parentage (father and mother), although DNA testing is the most accurate assessment available.

Either party may make a request for blood or DNA testing. DNA testing is expensive – cost depends on which test is used and how many people need to be tested. If the tests are requested by the court, the court will also specify who will pay for them. If "leave to obtain testing" has not been given, the parties will have to decide between themselves about how to pay for testing.

To arrange for DNA testing, you must call a lab where testing is carried out.


A man may provide proof in court that this presumption is not correct, but unless he does so, the judge may make an order naming him as the father.

If none of the circumstances exist that will allow the presumption that a man is the father, and the man denies being the father, a judge can decide the issue. An application can be made to the court for a Declaration of Paternity. The judge will hear evidence in court to decide who is the father of the child.

In addition to hearing evidence, the judge may "give leave to obtain testing" to prove or disprove paternity. A person cannot be tested without his or her consent. However, if a man refuses to take a test or tests when "leave to obtain testing" has been given, the judge has the right to conclude that that person is the father. If the mother refuses to allow the child to be tested, the judge has the right to conclude that the man is not the father of the child. The judge can make an order stating either of these to be the case.

If the mother of a child is denying that a man is the father, the responsibility lies with the man to prove that he is the child's father. The same court process and getting "leave to obtain testing" can be used to prove that a man is the father of a child. See a lawyer for advice if you are in this situation.