Finding out who your father is may soon be easier to determine for thousands of children going without child support in Florida.
New legislation signed by Gov. Jeb Bush puts heavy consequences on deadbeats who aren’t paying. The bill has a provision to collect DNA from children and fathers that could be problematic.
One of every 10 children born in Florida isn’t claimed by their biological father. Legislation signed by Gov. Jeb Bush could speed up the paternity process and speed up child support collections.
"Over the next five years we anticipate collecting an additional $600 million of child support," said Bush.
The Department of Revenue may now ask suspected fathers for their DNA. If they refuse, they face losing their driver’s license and car registration, and then could be ordered by a court to give up the DNA anyway.
Once DNA determines paternity the state can immediately go in and say the child support needs to be paid now, cutting down what is now a six to nine month process to six or nine weeks. The legislation was spurred by single parent Tina Calloway.
"Is it a long battle? Sometimes. Is it worth it? Yes because in the end your child is the most important thing," said Calloway.
The legislation is sketchy on what happens to the DNA sample, raising questions about whether the state will be building a DNA database of potentially at risk kids. Sponsor Skip Campbell says the law may have to be revisited.
"We are going to make sure that it gets used solely for purpose intended, which is to establish paternity," said Florida Sen. Skip Campbell.
When low income mothers start receiving child support, the legislation is expected to save the state more than $50 million in Medicaid payments by the year 2007.
There are approximately 650,000 children in Florida who don’t know who their fathers are.