Is It Legal to Refuse a Paternity Test?

January 6, 2022

Whether you or your child’s other parent have been asked to take a DNA paternity test, it’s unfortunately the case that refusal is always a possibility. But is that legal—and what can you do about it?

Testing for paternity is a smart idea, whether you’re trying to prove that someone is your child’s father or you’re hoping to establish that you aren’t the father. Paternity tests can help ensure that the right person helps pay for their child’s upbringing, whether they want to or not.

Here’s how DNA paternity tests work in Florida.

Why would someone ask for a paternity test?

Even if you’re certain a child is yours (or that they aren’t), you may be asked or ordered to take a paternity test.

When a child is born to a married couple, it’s automatically presumed that the husband is the father. If the father has no reason to believe that he’s the actual father, he may request a paternity test so he won’t be on the hook for years of child support payments. Of course, this can work the other way, too—if your child is born while you’re separated and getting ready to divorce, the father may be presumed to be your spouse. It’s best for all parties if the true father is identified and notified.

Another reason to ask for a paternity test is when you’re not married to your child’s other parent, and want to seek either custody, visitation or child support payments. Typically, fathers will not have rights unless they’re either named on the birth certificate, presumed to be the father because of marriage or specifically request a paternity test.

DNA paternity tests are safe and easy, and can make a world of difference, so it’s easy to see why a parent might ask for one.

What happens if I refuse a paternity test?

Sometimes a parent might refuse to take a paternity test, whether that’s because they don’t believe they’re the father, they don’t want to be a father or the mother is hoping to avoid dealing with the real biological father.

If a court orders you to take a paternity test, you can refuse—but there will be consequences. People who refuse to take paternity tests can be held in contempt of court, which comes with potential fines and jail time. Not only is that expensive and humiliating, but it can jeopardize your relationships and employment.

On the other hand, if you’re simply asked to take a paternity test by a private party, you can refuse. There’s no need to comply unless it comes from a court order. Sometimes unpleasant family members might “insist” on having one done. Unless that person is the other parent or guardian, there’s no need to submit to DNA testing on an outside party’s request or demand.

Ultimately, DNA paternity tests are useful tools to identify a child’s parentage. If you need a paternity test—or want legal counsel about your rights—call K.J. Law P.A. today.

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