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Paternity and accuracy: a brief look at how Florida law addresses paternity probabilities, P.1

For parents of children born outside of marriage, establishing paternity is an important first step in recognizing the rights and obligations that flow from parenthood. It goes without saying that the accuracy of paternity testing is critical to ensuring a just outcome. The fact is, though, that paternity testing is not without the possibility of error.

Florida law requires that proceedings to establish paternity involve scientific testing that is generally acceptable in scientific community for showing probability of paternity and that the procedure is handled by a qualified technical laboratory. DNA testing is the most common method for determining parentage, but there are different ways to do DNA testing. 

Postnuptial paternity testing takes place after the birth of the child, usually by means of a blood sample or cheek swab from the infant and the proposed father. Prenatal paternity testing, by contrast, occurs during pregnancy, either through invasive or non-invasive testing. Invasive testing, which does involve some risk for the child, is done either by taking a chorionic villus sample or an amniocentesis, and obtaining a blood sample or cheek swab from the proposed father. Non-invasive testing involves taking a blood sample from the mother to obtain fetal DNA from her blood.  

Paternity tests, despite their high reliability, are not necessarily accurate in every case. DNA tests display results in terms of the probability of parentage, and there can be anomalies. Under Florida law, a statistical probability of paternity less than 95 percent is supposed to be taken into consideration alongside other evidence of paternity, while a probability at or above 95 percent creates a presumption of paternity.

In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this issue, and how an experienced attorney can provide strong advocacy in paternity proceedings.  

Source: lifezette.com, “Why a Paternity Test Is Not 100 Percent Accurate,” Kecia Gaither, May 2, 2017. 

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