Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Child Support

When a man believes he is not the father of a child for whom he is paying child support, can he request DNA testing? The answer depends, among other factors, on why he is requesting the test and what steps he's taken after finding out that he is not the biological father. In the case Meeker v. Meeker, 214 So.3d 766 (Fla. 5th DCA 2017), we review a trial court's decision to order a DNA test in a proceeding to enforce an out-of-state child support order. 

In this case, the mother and father were never married, but they had a child while both were residing in Texas. At the time of the child's birth, the father signed an affidavit acknowledging paternity of the child. After orders were entered obligating the father to pay child support in Texas, the mother relocated to Maine with the child and the father relocated to Florida. 

On behalf of the mother, proceedings were initiated in Florida to enforce the Texas child support order. In response to these proceedings, the father filed a motion requesting scientific paternity testing, stating he believed he may not be the father of the child based on his investigation of the mother's activities during the time of conception. After a hearing at which no testimony was taken, the court entered an order granting the father's request for testing. 

On appeal, this order was reversed on three grounds: (1) the proceeding before the trial court was not to determine paternity - it was a proceeding to enforce a child support order; (2) the father's motion stated he filed it pursuant to the Florida Statute which regards establishment of paternity - paternity had already been established by the Texas court order; and (3) if the father's purpose was to disestablish paternity, he did so incorrectly since there are specific statutory requirements for doing so, including filing a petition and affidavit. In essence, the order was set aside because there was no basis for the father to file it in this type of proceeding. 

When a man believes he is not the father of a child for whom paternity has been established, it is important that he takes certain steps as soon as possible since delaying may cut off his opportunity to disestablish paternity and cancel his child support obligation. If you believe you are not the father of a child, you can request a DNA test under certain circumstances. Consulting with a Miami paternity lawyer is the first step in protecting your rights.