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Can I Refuse a DNA Paternity Test in Florida?

When ordered by the court, any party who fails to submit a DNA sample to establish paternity may end up with an unfavorable result in the lawsuit. Judges may also refer anyone who violates a court order for contempt of court criminal charges, which is a misdemeanor offense.

Should two people disagree on a child’s parentage, either can file a paternity lawsuit. Establishing paternity is an important event in family law because it allows a mother to seek child support from the alleged father, and it allows alleged fathers to seek custody and visitation with their children.

Although there are several ways paternity may be established, a court may issue an order for a DNA test to determine the alleged father’s biological relationship to the child.

Department of Revenue Paternity Actions

When a child’s mother seeks child support from an alleged father, the Florida Department of Revenue will request information about the father and the child. When reaching out to the father, the Department of Revenue will likely request a DNA sample from him. If a sample is voluntarily supplied, its DNA is compared against a sample from the child (supplied by the mother) to establish the child’s paternity.

If an alleged father is unwilling to provide a sample, the Department of Revenue may initiate a petition in court seeking the DNA sample. If the court orders the alleged father to provide a sample, refusal to do so can result in legal consequences.

Fathers Seeking Child Custody Can Request Paternity DNA Tests

If a man believes he is a child’s father and wishes to seek custody and/or visitation, he can file a paternity lawsuit and ask the judge for a DNA test. If the judge orders the test, the child’s mother is then required by the court to submit a sample of their child’s DNA to the court for testing. As in the opposite scenario, failure to comply with this order can have important legal consequences.

Importantly, fathers who successfully establish paternity may be ordered to pay child support regardless of any custody or visitation that the court may or may not also order.

What Happens If I Fail to Submit DNA for a Paternity Test?

When either the mother or father fails to submit a DNA sample to determine a child’s paternity, the outcome of the lawsuit may not be in their favor.

For example, the court can determine that an alleged father who failed to submit a DNA test in a paternity action is the child’s legal father despite the absence of the sample. This can result in someone becoming liable for child support payments, even if they are not actually biologically related to the child.

Mothers who refuse to submit their child’s DNA for testing can face a similar outcome. If an alleged father seeks custody and visitation with a child that they believe is theirs, a mother’s refusal to submit the child’s DNA sample can result in the court ordering a time-sharing agreement between her and the father.

Contempt of Court Criminal Charges

Any time someone is accused of violating any court order, they may face criminal charges for contempt of court. This is a first-degree misdemeanor crime in Florida, which means a conviction can be punished with a one-year jail sentence and fines.

While judges may not hold someone in contempt without warning, it’s important to consult with your attorney for professional guidance to avoid a contempt of court charge.

Contact Us for Legal Assistance

Beatriz Zyne, P.A. has helped many clients navigate the complexities of establishing paternity. With a comprehensive understanding of the local regulations and processes, our attorney is committed to providing high-quality legal services so that her clients can get clarity on their rights and responsibilities as parents.

Learn more about our legal services and how we can assist you by contacting us online.