When paternity is in doubt, paternity testing is a potent instrument that provides clarity and peace of mind. Paternity tests can deliver results with a high level of accuracy, whether for legal, personal, or medical reasons. In this article, we’ll look at the justifications for getting a paternity test, the several approaches available, the reliability of the results, the procedure, and the potential emotional toll it can take on people and families.

What is paternity testing?

Paternity is a term used to describe a legal relationship between a child and their parent. While paternity can describe a variety of relationships, including biological and adoptive relationships, paternity testing is specifically used to determine whether someone is the genetic parent of a child. Paternity testing attempts to establish the identity of a person’s genetic parent, also called their biological father. This testing works by comparing a child’s genetic material, called DNA, to an individual to see if that individual is one of the child’s genetic parents. Paternity testing can be performed for a variety of reasons, including to legally establish certain rights for a child, help a child learn more about their lineage, and resolve questions about a child’s genetic parent.

Purpose of the test

The purpose of a paternity test is to determine whether someone is the genetic parent of a child. A paternity test may be taken for a variety of reasons, including:

Legal purposes: Legal paternity testing involves testing ordered by a court. For the results of a paternity test to be used as evidence in court, the test must be conducted with oversight and documentation of each step.

Resolving uncertainty: If there is uncertainty about a child’s genetic parents, paternity testing may be used to confirm the identity of a child’s genetic parent, provide information about the child’s lineage and family history, and offer reassurance or peace of mind about genetic relationships.

Medical purposes: Although not a common use for paternity testing, confirming the identity of a child’s genetic parent can provide information about the child’s family health history.

Taking a Paternity Test

DNA samples used for paternity testing are often obtained by swabbing the inside of the cheeks. While blood samples can also be used, blood draws are more intrusive and less convenient. Also, because a person’s DNA is the same in cells lining the cheeks and blood cells, a cheek swab is just as accurate as a blood test.

Some types of paternity testing can be done during pregnancy. One method, called non-invasive prenatal paternity testing, uses a sample of the mother’s blood to identify cell-free fetal DNA (cfDNA) that can be compared to the other genetic parent’s DNA. Prenatal paternity testing can also be performed through amniocentesis and related procedures, but these methods can pose risks to both the mother and baby.

For prenatal paternity testing, the baby and pregnant parent samples are collected in a clinical or hospital setting. The possible genetic parent’s sample can be obtained through a cheek swab.

Do hospitals do paternity tests at birth?

No. The majority of hospitals do not offer paternity testing as a service. A hospital will refer their clients to a DNA testing company like Choice DNA Test to assist with their DNA testing needs.

Please note that DNA sample collections are often performed onsite at many hospitals if you need a paternity test before signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity form. You must consult with the head nurse or doctor to confirm a DNA sample collection can performed on the hospital premises.

Is DNA testing mandatory at birth in the hospital?

No, DNA Testing is not mandatory to establish the paternity of a child. All paternity tests are voluntary unless a judge orders you to perform a DNA test for child support purposes. Suppose you require a paternity test at hospital shortly after the birth of your child. Choice DNA test can assist you with performing a legal paternity test prior to signing the Acknowledgment of Paternity form to add your name to the child’s birth certificate.

Why perform a paternity DNA test after the birth of a child?

Performing a DNA test when a child is born is a great opportunity for an unmarried man to prove he is biologically related to a child if he has any doubts in mind about being biologically related. It may also help prevent an unmarried man from going to court for child support for a child that is not his own.  

Another thing that should be taken into consideration is when performing a DNA test with Choice DNA test with a newborn. It affords the mother and possible legal father the opportunity for the child to know who he or she is biologically related to. Knowing this little piece of information will help a child develop.

Paternity Test Results

Receiving test results

Many factors can influence how long it may take to get paternity test results. If you are taking an at-home test, results may be ready in a matter of days, but this can depend on the time required to mail samples to the laboratory.

The Choice DNA test may make paternity testing results available through an online portal. If the testing company performed a legal test, you may also receive results in the mail. The results of a legal paternity test may take several weeks or longer. If testing is done through a state agency, that agency may mail you the results and documentation for use in court.

Interpreting test results

The results of a DNA paternity test show how likely someone is to be a child’s biological father or genetic parent. On a test report, this is often called the probability of paternity. The probability of paternity is generally described as one of two values: 0 or 99.99.

If the probability of paternity is 0, the report may state that the subject is “excluded” as the genetic parent. If the probability is 99.99 or greater, it may state that the subject is “not excluded.”

A probability of 0 means that the paternity test has ruled out the test subject as a possible genetic parent. A probability of 99.99 or higher means that the test subject is extremely likely to be the child’s genetic parent.

Are the test results accurate?

While no test is perfect, DNA paternity testing is considered to be highly accurate. The Choice DNA test results are 99-100% accurate in determining whether someone is the child’s genetic parent.

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