Frequently Asked Questions About Paternity Tests

Father holding newborn baby girl

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DNA paternity testing is an important tool available to prove or disprove a biological relationship for a child. The test uses a DNA profile for each individual and compares the data to determine if there is a genetic match. If the child and potential father genetically match, then he is the biological father. If the data does not match, then he is excluded as the biological father.

Determining the biological relationship can help with traditional issues such as child support and proper documentation for a birth record but can also include benefits such as:

  • Establishing benefits such as Social Security, Veteran’s and inheritance benefits
  • Providing health information and assists in managing a child’s health record
  • Strengthening the bond between a father and child

How to Get One

A DNA paternity test can be administered to anyone to confirm the genetic relationship between two people. Many DNA paternity testing companies offer both legal and non-legal tests.

How Long It Takes

Most laboratories usually can process results in 2 to 5 days from the time your samples are received. There are also expedited methods to ensure a fast turnaround time if results are needed more urgently, such as for adding a name to a birth certificate.

Types of Paternity Tests

There are legal and non-legal paternity tests. The legal test results can be used in court, such as for child support.

The non-legal paternity test involves collecting your samples in the privacy of your home. Non-legal paternity tests are not legally defensible because they were not collected at a lab or hospital and do not include the correct documentation to support the collection.

How to Choose a Testing Company

DNA testing requires validating methods and equipment. A DNA paternity testing company should be accredited by an organization that oversees these validation methods. Most courts and government agencies require DNA tests to be performed by AABB accredited laboratories.

What It Costs

The cost of a DNA paternity test can vary. A legal DNA paternity test typically costs between $300 to $500, which usually include the collection costs associated with the test.

Non-legal paternity tests start at about $30 for the retail kit (not including the testing) to around $200, depending on additional services such as expedited testing and shipping.

Where to Buy One

Non-Legal DNA paternity test kits can be found in most pharmacies. The retail purchase price does not include the lab fees, but they are one of the lowest cost DNA paternity tests available.

Collecting Samples

The method used to obtain a sample is typically referred to as a buccal swab collection. Removing cheek cells using a poly or Dacron swab performs this painless type of collection. These cells, which contain DNA, are used to determine the genetic profile of the individual. A blood sample can also be used to determine the genetic profile. This method is used for non-invasive prenatal paternity tests before a baby is born.

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Article Sources
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  1. American Pregnancy Association. Paternity Testing.

  2. DNA Diagnostics Center. Accreditations.

Additional Reading