In Florida, a mother who was impregnated before her 16th birthday is required by law to assist the authorities if the baby’s father was older than 21 when the baby was conceived. The mother will be required to cooperate with any state-ordered paternity testing if she wishes to open a child support case against the baby’s father or receive state assistance. These statutes are in place so that Florida can prosecute anyone over the age of 21 who impregnates someone who is under 16, including if the pregnancy arose as a result of child abuse.
More on establishing paternity
The mother of the child is required to cooperate with government officials to receive government assistance in the form of childcare vouchers or access to free or discounted medical insurance.
If it is determined that the father of the child is over 21 years of age, the father could be subject to criminal prosecution. The paternity results will also allow the mother to receive child support, and the father will be able to request visitation rights.
Scientific tests are used to determine paternity. The court may order that the mother, child, or alleged father be tested at a laboratory that meets professional standards. Both the mother and potential father can request a paternity test, which will initiate a court order. The request must include a written statement indicating that the man in question denies paternity and/or sexual contact with the mother. If the results indicate that a man’s probability of paternity is 95% or higher, the man is presumed to be the father.
Once the lab has the results, they are sent to the court and used as evidence unless either party objects at least 10 days prior to the paternity hearing. Both parties can also dispute the results of the paternity test in court and request additional testing.