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Can a mother refuse to present a child for paternity tests?

On Behalf of | Oct 6, 2023 | Paternity

Unmarried fathers have certain legal protections in Florida. However, those protections are not automatic like the protections extended to mothers and married fathers. Unmarried dads in Florida usually need to add their names to the birth certificates of their children to enjoy their full parental rights.

The simplest way to do so involves cooperating with a child’s mother to fill out voluntary paperwork. However, when the relationship between parents isn’t positive, a mother might refuse to acknowledge her child’s father. When a voluntary acknowledgment isn’t possible, a father might then ask the courts to help establish his paternity through genetic testing.

Can a mother refuse to let a child undergo genetic tests?

The courts can enforce a paternity testing order

Some people might raise a claim that certain kinds of medical testing would be invasive and therefore inappropriate to subject a child to without their parents’ consent. Modern genetic testing is neither invasive nor risky. It involves an oral swab and therefore does not create an opportunity for a mother to refuse testing based on concerns for her child.

The most an uncooperative mother could do without risking consequences would be to refuse to undergo testing herself as the mother of the child. However, testing just the father and the child can usually provide relatively conclusive results regarding whether or not he is likely the father. If the mother refuses to present a child for genetic testing, the courts can take enforcement actions, possibly including accusing her of contempt of court.

Understanding the right of a father to establish paternity may help men who want to play an active role in the lives of their children to do so much more effectively. Seeking legal guidance can provide this clarity.