Failing to Take a DNA Test in a Florida Paternity Case May Determine Outcome

1037197_dna_3.jpgUnlike mothers, fathers are not as easily determined to the parent of a child born out of wedlock and in Florida, the mother and/or the Department of Revenue may bring an action to establish paternity and child support. In a Florida, if the Department of Revenue is involved in a case it is typically due to the mother requesting some government aid for the child, such as Medicaid or Florida Kid Care. When the Department of Revenue is involved, the mother is asked to provide all information regarding the potential father of the child and the Department charges the mother a nominal fee to establish paternity and child support through the court. Since the father is not determined by simply signing the birth certificate, the petitioner, mother and/or Department of Revenue, may request a paternity test in order to scientifically establish the paternity of the child. In Jacksonville and most jurisdictions in Florida, the court will often require a DNA test even if was not requested in the initial petition simply to guarantee proper paternity is established.

DNA testing requires the putative or presumed father to comply with the DNA testing, the facility is often provided by the court, but the parties are typically responsible for paying for the test. The mother is also required to comply by taking the child to the DNA facility for the test to be complete. The DNA samples are then compared and an analysis or report is provided to the court. Cooperation by both parties is stand mandated by Florida Statutes.

If either party does not comply with the court order to have the DNA testing completed, then the judge can enter an order against the offending party. What this means, is that if the mother/guardian does not take the child for DNA testing, then the court may find that the presumed father is not the child’s father and is not obligate to pay child support. Department of Revenue o/b/o M.J.W. v. G.A.T.,Jr., 37 FLW D28 (Fla. 2nd DCA December 28, 2011). The impact of noncompliance would basically, according to the court, meet the standards established under Florida Statute 742.18(7)(b), which determines the disestablishment of paternity for noncompliance with DNA testing.

The impact of this ruling is that the DNA testing rules governs an action where paternity is questioned. Not having the testing completed basically means that the party that does not follow the court order is granting the court the authority to either order child support without a scientific finding of paternity or if the mother doesn’t comply, then not order child support be paid. However, the finding by the court did determine that noncompliance in the original case does not bar an additional case being brought in the future.