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Testing for paternity

If Florida parents are unmarried when a child is born, the father might not be on the birth certificate. It might be necessary to have a DNA test to prove paternity if the father does not voluntarily acknowledge it or if it is unclear.

A paternity test can be key in collecting child support. The father can also seek visitation or custody orders once he has established legal paternity.

A DNA test for paternity involves a noninvasive mouth or cheek swab. For the results to stand up in court, the test needs to be conducted at a hospital, health department, medical office or other certified facility.

Once given, the DNA sample is usually tested twice to ensure accuracy. A DNA test has a greater than 99 percent accuracy, and there is a "chain of custody" that ensures that the sample remains secure.

Paternity suits or paternity actions may in some cases be the only way a mother can collect child support. If the father still does not pay support, the mother may be able to go through the state, local or federal child support enforcement office. The father's wages or other income might be garnished.

If the father has a change in income that means he will be unable to keep up the child support payments, he can go back to court and ask for a child support modification.

There have been some high profile paternity cases. The founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, eventually acknowledged and supported his daughter as did Mick Jagger who had a child earlier in his career. Both developed relationships with their children.

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