Every year, 300,000 paternity tests are performed in the US.
Paternity tests are performed for a variety of reasons and in a variety of ways. The method that’s right for one individual might not be right for another.
If you require a paternity test, you should know what options are available to you. That’s especially true if you require a paternity test for legal reasons.
Keep reading to learn more about paternity tests and how to have one done.
How Is a Paternity Test Performed?
A paternity test establishes who the father of a child is. There are two main ways of performing these tests.
The first and easiest way is to have a cheek-swab test. The cheek-swab takes a sample of DNA from the possible father as well as the child. The samples are then compared to see if the DNA matches.
Another more invasive method of performing paternity tests happens while the mother is pregnant. These are far more complicated but are necessary in some cases.
Why Would You Need a Paternity Test?
Paternity tests prove who the father of a child is in cases where the father is avoiding legal obligations. Having a paternity test allows the mother to seek child support on a legal basis.
Men may also request paternity tests in cases where they would like custody of their child or at least visitation rights. If a mother is withholding the child from their rightful father, proving paternity allows them to pursue custody on a legal basis.
There is also court-ordered paternity tests in the following types of cases:
- inheritance rights
Most importantly, though, paternity tests prove who a father is so that children have emotional and physical support. It gives the child the benefit of a child-father relationship. It also gives them access to medical records that might pertain to their own health.
Who Can Request a Paternity Test?
In order to request a paternity test, the requesting party is obligated to prove that there’s a potential relationship between the child and the father. After that, the following people are able to request a test:
- the legal guardian
- a social worker
- a prosecuting attorney
- the representative of a minor
- the alleged father
- the mother of the child
- the legal father or mother
Divorce lawyers can also recommend that a parent request or take a test, but they can’t request a test themselves.
How to Have a Paternity Test Performed
There are four main ways to have a paternity test performed. We’ll go through each of these in more detail below.
1. Testing While the Mother Is Pregnant
This is also known as prenatal testing and there are three common methods.
The first is amniocentesis. This form of testing takes place between 13 and 24 weeks of pregnancy. It only takes 30 minutes and it’s considered safe, though it’s invasive.
Another type of prenatal paternity test is chorionic villus sampling. This takes place between 10 and 13 weeks of pregnancy and the ability to test earlier makes it beneficial over amniocentesis.
After week 14 of pregnancy, non-invasive prenatal paternity tests are an option. This is a relatively new form of prenatal testing that has some drawbacks. One of those is that doctors can’t properly isolate the fetal cells, so there’s a chance that the wrong fetal cells are isolated and the results aren’t accurate.
2. At-Home Paternity Test Kit
The at-home paternity testing kit is the easiest and fastest way to determine paternity. You collect DNA from the alleged father and the child from the comfort of your own home. You can purchase at-home kits either online or at some drugstores.
This is also a cost-effective method for paternity testing. Both the kit and the fee you pay the lab are affordable. However, these tests are not court-admissable.
3. Legal Test From a Laboratory
If you need a test for legal reasons, an at-home testing kit isn’t an option. You’ll have to get results that the courts can legally accept. High-quality laboratories can help you get court-admissible results and you can make that arrangement on your own by speaking with an accredited lab directly.
If you choose to go this route, keep in mind the chain of custody. This has to do with the shipping of the swabs. Courts need to be 100% sure that the sample wasn’t tampered with in the process.
As such, courts examine every individual who was involved in the shipping process, from collection to testing. They need to be sure that every individual who comes in contact with the test is an independent third party. If they find that someone with a bias handled the results, those results are no longer court-admissable.
4. Court-Sanctioned Testing
Lawyers are able to arrange to test for an alleged father or the mother of the child. To do so, they’ll have to start a court case. If the court finds that a paternity test is necessary in your case, then they’ll order the test and arrange it.
The court will arrange the test through an accredited lab. Who pays for the test depends on the court’s decision on the case.
The downside of this testing method is that you won’t be able to ask any questions about the test as the court deals directly with the lab. You’ll also have to pay for the lawyer who sets up the case for you.
Do You Need to Establish Paternity?
The only credible way of establishing the paternity of a child is by taking a paternity test. If you need to establish paternity for legal reasons, such as child custody or child support, then you’ll likely need court-admissable results.
That means that you can’t take an at-home DNA testing kit and you’ll have to work with an accredited lab.
If you’re in the Houston, TX area, we can help. We’re accredited to perform paternity tests and other forms of DNA testing. Contact us today for more information.