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Court-Ordered Paternity Test in Florida: All You Need to Know

Posted by LEISA WINTZ | Apr 22, 2023 | 0 Comments

Father embracing his baby

Establishing legal paternity is essential in determining parental rights, child support, and other legal matters. In Florida, there are several options for paternity testing, including prenatal paternity tests and court-ordered paternity tests. In this article, we will explore the different options available for paternity testing in Florida, including how to get a court-ordered paternity test, who pays for it, and the benefits of establishing legal paternity.

Prenatal Paternity Testing

You might be wondering why do you need a prenatal paternity test. Truth is, even if the father signed an Affidavit of Paternity at the hospital, or a mother put his name on the birth certificate, that, in and of itself, does not establish rights or custody of the child as far as the biological father is concerned. The mother has all the rights to the child under the Florida Natural Guardian Statute. If a father is not married to the mother, he would want to file a petition to establish paternity as soon as the baby is born in order to legally obtain his rights to make decisions about the child or have a timesharing schedule (visitation) with the child.

Even if the baby hasn't been born yet, it's possible to perform paternity test while pregnant. This is called prenatal paternity testing.

Prenatal paternity testing can help families plan for the future and provide peace of mind. Prenatal paternity tests are highly accurate, with a reliability rate of over 99 percent. However, there is a small risk of complications associated with the procedure, so it's best-advised to consult with your doctor before undergoing prenatal paternity testing.

How to Get a Court-Ordered Paternity Test

If paternity is in question and there is a pending lawsuit concerning that child, such as a divorce, child support, or an actual disestablishment or establishment of paternity, a judge can order a DNA test to be performed.  That Order would indicate where the test is to take place and give the parties a certain length of time to finish the testing.  This is done through the Court so that the chain of custody of the results of the paternity test are secured.  The results go straight to the judge as well as to the parties.

Mothers can't refuse a court-ordered paternity test. While a mother may initially refuse the procedure, failure to comply with a court order can result in legal consequences. A mother who refuses a court-ordered paternity test may be held in contempt of court and may face fines or even jail time.

It is also important to note that a court-ordered paternity test is different from a self-ordered legal paternity test. While a court-ordered paternity test is ordered by a judge and can be used as evidence in court, a self-ordered legal paternity test is not admissible in court and cannot be used to establish legal paternity.

Who pays for a court order paternity test?

Sometimes the judge will order that the parties split the cost of the paternity testing or have the person requesting the test to pay for the full costs.  There have been occasions where the judge has ordered the mother to reimburse the opposing party for the testing when the DNA results showed that the opposing party was not the biological father.  Failure to comply with the order of the court could result in one being held in contempt of court.

Reasons to Get a Court-Ordered Paternity Test

There are many benefits of establishing legal paternity. These are just a few.

  • To establish legal paternity: In cases where the father's identity is in question or where there is a dispute over paternity, a court-ordered paternity test can provide a definitive answer. Once paternity is established, it can help ensure that the child receives the financial and emotional support they need.
  • To seek child custody or visitation rights: In cases where the father is not listed on the birth certificate or where the mother is refusing to allow the father to see the child, a paternity test can help establish legal rights. With a court-ordered paternity test, the father can seek to establish legal custody or visitation rights.
  • When seeking child support: In Florida, child support is determined based on a variety of factors, including the income of both parents and the number of children they have. Once paternity is established, the father can be required to provide financial support for the child. This can be particularly important in cases where the mother is struggling to make ends meet or where the child has significant medical or educational needs.

You might be wondering if it is possible to get a court-ordered paternity test without a lawyer. While it is always recommended to seek legal advice when navigating legal proceedings, it is possible to request a court-ordered paternity test without a lawyer. However, it is important to note that the process can be complex, and mistakes can be costly. Seeking legal advice can ensure that your rights and the rights of your child are protected throughout the process.

At Family Matters Law Group have the professionals equipped to provide you the aid you need. If you or your loved ones are seeking to establish legal paternity over a child via court DNA test, contact us today and let us make the process as smooth and stress-free as possible.

About the Author

LEISA WINTZ

Leisa Wintz originally began her career as a marriage and family therapist. Ms. Wintz went on to attend law school and started practicing family law in 2009. However, she quickly realized that many family law practices lacked the empathy and compassion she believed were necessary in order to achi...

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