Common Questions About Paternity Testing

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by The Genetic Testing Laboratories, Inc.


Common Questions About Paternity Testing

Methods to determine the paternity of a child have been in place for millennia, for nearly as long as questions of paternity have been an issue amongst humans. The earliest forms of paternity testing involved looking at the child and determining whether he or she had similar physical features to a potential parent. This method was neither accurate nor scientifically rigorous, but it was the best many people could until the advent of genetic paternity tests.

Scientific paternity testing began in the 1920s. The earliest tests matched the blood type of the child to the blood types of potential parents. These tests did not have a high accuracy rate, and were only able to exclude between 30-40 percent of the male population from being a possible father.

In the 1960s, a new genetic fingerprinting test was developed which matched children and parents using the DNA fingerprint that exists on every blood cell in the body. By matching DNA fingerprints, paternity could be determined with up to 90 percent accuracy. These methods were further refined throughout the 1970s and 1980s until a method of determining paternity with 99.99 percent accuracy was perfected. This led to the legal paternity test system that is most commonly in use today.

What Are Some Reasons to Get a Paternity Test?

There are a number of reasons you may want to get a paternity test for yourself or your child. Adult orphans who are looking to reunite with their birth parents may need a test to determine paternity if adoption records have become lost or destroyed. Likewise, victims of hospital mix ups, and single parents who want to collect child support may also need a test to prove parentage. Paternity tests also have genealogical purposes, and can be used to establish hereditary ancestry.

When Can You Take a Paternity Test?

You can take a paternity test at any time. Children and adults alike are eligible to be tested, and new prenatal paternity tests can be used on babies before they are even born by taking a DNA sample from the mother’s amniotic fluid.

How Are paternity Tests Administered?

Tests can be administered by a designated DNA testing facility or by a doctor such as your primary care physician. Online options like the GTL paternity test kit are also a reliable and discreet option. All that is required for testing is a DNA sample from all the involved parties. In most cases, these samples are taken in the form of a simple cheek swab, but hair can be used if it is important to keep the test a secret.

Are Paternity Tests Confidential?

Paternity tests are completely confidential, and you do not have to tell the results to anyone if you don’t want to. If it is impossible to obtain consent from the mother of a child or one of the potential fathers, tests can also be performed without their knowledge or authorization; however, it is strongly suggested that potential parents involve themselves in the process as much as possible.

Are Test Results Legally Binding?

A legal paternity test is admissible in a court as evidence of paternity. There are a number of reasons why you might want to establish legal paternity, most notably in child custody or child support cases.

However, if you need legal paternity test results, be sure to use a paternity testing organization that adheres to chain of custody procedures. These are steps that need to be taken to ensure that samples are properly identified, collected, and processed so that they are defensible in court.

How Long Do Results Take?

Most organizations process test results within a week, and some work even faster than that. If you are involved in a court case and time is of the essence, there are a number of organizations that also offer express processing for an additional fee. Keep in mind that prenatal testing or testing samples other than cheek swabs may make your results take longer.

How Much Do Paternity Tests Cost?

Tests vary depending on the nature of the sample being collected and other complications; however, they are generally quite affordable. Insurance and Medicaid generally do not cover paternity testing so chances are that you will have to pay the full amount of the test. However, many organizations offer payment plans so that you do not have to pay the entire cost of the test up front.

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