DNA tests serve many purposes in today’s society, including but not limited to growing family trees, identifying archeological remains, solving cold cases, and tracking down long-lost relatives. By far one of the most far reaching impacts of DNA tests, however, is their ability to establish paternity and therefore ensure that the right man is held financially accountable for his child.
The rate of children being born into fatherless families has soared since the 1970s, with approximately 1 million more children being born out of wedlock each year. With more and more people having children out of wedlock these days, the need for paternity testing has become urgent, and the need for court intervention almost equally so. Family courts take the welfare of children very seriously, and the needs of those children always trump any repercussions that test results may have on the mother or alleged father. If a mother or alleged father refuses to agree to or take a paternity test, the oppositional party may face legal consequences.
Who Can Order a Court-Ordered Paternity Test?
One of three people or entities may initiate paternity proceedings in the state of Florida:
- The mother;
- The alleged or presumed father;
- The Child Support Division of the State.
The mother and alleged father may file before the child is even born so that they can decide whether or not a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity is even necessary. A child may also initiate paternity proceedings so long as he or she does so once he or she has reached the “age of majority,” which is 18, and before he or she turns 23.
What if the Mother or Father Refuses to Participate in the Test?
Generally speaking, a mother cannot refuse a paternity test, as there is no good reason for her to do so. That said, if ordered by the courts, it is not wise for any alleged father to refuse a test, either. If an alleged father refuses to take a paternity test, he can be held in contempt of court, which is a crime that carries hefty fines and possible jail time. Paying the fine and serving the time does not mean that the whole ordeal is over with for the father either. The family law judge may still enter a judgement against the man and order him to pay child support.
What if the Mother and Alleged Father Were Married at the Time of Conception or Birth?
In Florida, the “presumption of paternity” exists when a man’s name is listed on the child’s birth certificate as the father or when a child is born to a married couple. The married man remains the presumed father even if there is clear and convincing evidence that the wife was having an affair at the time of conception. A presumed father may attempt to disestablish paternity, which begins with requesting that the Court order a DNA paternity test.
Work With a Boca Raton Paternity Lawyer
Whether you are a mother who wishes to establish paternity or a father who wishes to establish paternity, it is important that you understand your rights when it comes to court-ordered paternity tests. It is also important that you do not do anything rash that could result in criminal charges. The best thing you can do in such a unique situation is to contact a Boca Raton paternity lawyer for advice and guidance. Contact the Law Offices of David L. Hirschberg, P.A., at (561) 763-7622 today.