Generally, establishing paternity involves testing the DNA of the alleged father against the DNA of the child. If the alleged father is not amenable to having his DNA tested, the court can order him to do so. There are cases, however, when the alleged father might not be available for DNA testing. He could be deceased, out of the country, or could have made himself unavailable. If this is the case, paternity could potentially be determined through a grandparent study or “grand paternity”. Grandparent DNA testing is more extensive than paternity testing, although not as difficult as a sibling study. Grandparent DNA testing is, however, conclusive with almost the same assurance as a paternity test.
Grandparents in the state of Florida might initiate grandparent DNA testing because they believe they are the biological grandparents of a child or because they believe they are not the biological grandparents of a child. In most cases, the grandparents simply want to know the truth, whether for peace of mind, or for legal reasons. Legal reasons could include inheritance concerns, custody issues, health concerns or the death of the alleged father.
When a grandparent DNA test is done, one or both parents of the possible father will contribute DNA, along with the child, and the mother of the child when possible. This type of DNA analysis is a puzzle with considerably more pieces than a simple paternity DNA test. It is more accurate when both grandparents (both parents of the possible father) are tested. If only one grandparent’s DNA is tested, the results may not be as conclusive as they need to be to establish paternity. If the child’s mother refuses the grandparent DNA test, the grandparents will have to petition the courts to order the test to be administered.
So, assume you have definitely shown that the child is your biological grandparent—what are your options now? If the mother of the child allows you to visit your grandchild at least some of the time, you are not legally allowed to request more time with the child. If, however, the mother of the child bars you completely from seeing your grandchild, you could be able to file for court-ordered visitation, but typically not when the mother is alive, and acting in a custodial manner over the child. Grandparents must show that their right to see their grandchild is in the best interests of the child when going before a judge. The judge will then consider all relevant factors, determining whether it is in the best interests of the child to spend time with grandparents.
“Best interests” can be a murky term, but things the judge may consider include whether you, as grandparents are willing to encourage a close relationship between your grandchild and his or her mother, whether there was a prior relationship between you and your grandchild before the paternity tests was ordered, the child’s preferences, if he or she is old enough, the child’s mental and physical health, and your physical and mental health. Florida law almost always prohibits parental rights from being overridden unless the child will experience harm if the grandparent visits do not take place.
If you are interested in determining whether a child is biologically your grandchild, it can be beneficial to speak to an experienced Florida family law attorney, particularly if your goal is to have visitation with your grandchild after establishment of paternity. There are many potentially complex issues associated with paternity, and the outcome can depend on your level of legal information and representation.
If you have concerns regarding grandparent paternity testing, the Coral Gables paternity lawyers at Estevez-Pazos Law Firm, P.A. are here to help you during this difficult time. Call us immediately for your consultation at (305) 717-7130 or fill out our confidential contact form and someone will call you back.