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Paternity and accuracy: a brief look at how Florida law addresses paternity probabilities, P.2

Last time, we began looking at the issue of accuracy in paternity testing. As we noted, although DNA testing is considered highly accurate, it can't necessarily be considered definitive proof of paternity. Part of the reason for that is that DNA testing is always in terms of probabilities. As we noted last time, a statistical probability at or above 95 percent creates a presumption of paternity.

The presumption of paternity can be defeated, but it would require strong evidence. Such evidence could include proof that the chain of custody for the blood or cheek swab sample was broken and that the integrity of the test results cannot be verified. In cases where the probability of paternity is less than 95 percent, other evidence may come into play regarding the accuracy of paternity testing. 

When paternity testing ends with an improper finding of paternity, it is possible to challenge the paternity determination. More often than not, though, paternity testing doesn't come under serious dispute. One scenario where DNA testing may not be used, but where paternity may be challenged, is where children are born out of wedlock and there is a signed voluntary acknowledgement of paternity. Florida law only allows challenges in these situations when there is fraud, duress or material mistake of fact.

Paternity testing is an important first step in acknowledging the legal rights and obligations that flow from parenthood. When unusual circumstances arise and threaten a parent's rights, such as improper paternity determinations, it is important to work with experienced legal counsel to establish a sound strategy and to build the strongest case. 

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