Do I Have to Take a DNA Test?

The courts need concrete evidence to prove paternity.

Establishing paternity can be a critical component of Florida custody and/or child support proceedings. In plenty of cases, a father or mother will want to request a DNA test. In other instances, a father or mother may wish to prevent a DNA test from being taken.

However, Florida law has the final say on whether you will be forced to take a DNA test or not.

Can You Be Forced to Take a DNA Test?

A crucial point that must be made immediately clear is that a mother cannot force an alleged father to take a DNA test. Both parties, however, can voluntarily agree to take a DNA test in order to establish paternity.

In such cases, the Florida Department of Revenue (DOR) can help the parties complete a DNA test. Both parties will submit their biological samples, which are ultimately sent to an independent lab that compares the father’s DNA to the child’s.

If the tests are a match genetically, then Florida’s DOR will issue an Administrative Order of Paternity, which effectively establishes paternity in a legally enforceable manner. If the parties do not sign a voluntary acknowledgment or cannot cooperate on an attempt to establish paternity, then a court case will need to be filed.

Florida law says that a paternity action can be commenced by the mother of the child, the alleged father, the Florida DOR, or a legal representative who is acting on behalf of the child. Additionally, Section 742.12 of the 2016 Florida Statutes clearly states that the court may require the child, mother and alleged fathers to submit to scientific tests that show a probability of paternity. In other words, the court may, on its own motion, require you to take a DNA test.

Even if the mother and alleged father could not cooperate before beginning a paternity action in court, the court itself can require a DNA test. If a party still chooses to not comply with the court order to undergo DNA testing, this decision alone can determine the outcome of the case.

In the case of Department of Revenue o/b/o M.J.W. v. G.A.T.,Jr., 37 FLW D28 (Fla. 2nd DCA December 28, 2011), the court found that the presumed father is not the child’s father because the mother/guardian did not take the child for court-ordered DNA testing. Similarly, a father who ignores the order to undergo DNA testing could be found by the court to be the child’s father, regardless of biology. Worse, a potential father may be held in contempt of court for violating the court order.

In short, ignoring the order to take a DNA test is an unwise legal strategy. If you have issues with DNA and paternity testing, it is in your best interests to consult with a Florida family lawyer.

If you have questions regarding family law, or are unaware as to the terms and conditions in, talk to, and retain, a family law attorney who can help. Contact Damien McKinney of The McKinney Law Group to discuss your case further. He can be reached by phone at 813-428-3400 or by e-mail at contact@themckinneylawgroup.com

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