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Can Ancestry Tests Determine Your Father or Mother?
Updated on April 18, 2023
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Can Ancestry Tests Determine Your Father or Mother?

Genetic ancestry tests like 23andMe and Ancestry DNA can search their database to explore biological relatives, like your mother and father.

Taking them doesn’t guarantee you will find family members. But they can be useful if you’re adopted or were separated from your birth family at a young age.

At-home DNA tests give you a convenient and affordable way to find relatives and connect with people you may be closely related to.

These genetic tests can also help you learn more about your family’s history.

Can Ancestry Tests Determine Your Father or Mother? 2

But if you want to establish paternity or maternity, you need to take a different type of genetic test known as paternity or maternity testing.

These tests can accurately tell you if a person is your biological father or mother. You can also use them to confirm that someone isn’t your birth parent.


Ancestry tests like 23andMe and AncestryDNA can help you learn more about your ethnic origins and where your family may have come from.

What is an Ancestry Test?

Ancestry kits can uncover your ancestral origins, which can be helpful for researching your family history or building your family tree

The best at-home DNA tests can trace your ancestors’ migration routes. They can tell you how your ancestors migrated across the world in the last few hundred years.

Ancestry testing can also help you find relatives you didn’t know about. The more DNA you share with a person, the more likely you are to be closely related. 

Can 23andMe Determine Paternity & Maternity?

No. Currently, there’s no 23andMe paternity test or maternity test. 

The DNA testing company can’t confirm or deny your biological relationship to a potential father or mother.

But if you’re looking for one or both parents, 23andMe’s ancestry tests can help with a feature called DNA Relatives.

DNA Relatives uses your genetic information to find genetic matches or people who share a significant amount of your DNA. To find your mom or dad:

  • You need to take the 23andMe ancestry test
  • At least one of your parents should be on the 23andMe database
  • The missing parent must be a 23andMe customer

Can AncestryDNA Determine Paternity & Maternity?

No. There is no Ancestry DNA test for paternity or maternity. They can’t tell you whether or not you’re biologically related to a suspected father or mother.

However, you can use AncestryDNA to find your birth father or mother if:

  • You take an Ancestry DNA test
  • At least one of your parents is tested with AncestryDNA
  • The lost parent is on the AncestryDNA database

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What Is DNA Paternity Testing?


A paternity test can determine whether or not a man is a child's birth father.

A paternity test is used to prove or deny the biological relationship between a father and his child, who may be a minor or an adult at the time of testing.

Paternity testing can also be performed on an unborn child while the woman is pregnant. This is known as a prenatal paternity test.

How Do Paternity Tests Work?

To perform the test, DNA samples must be gathered from the suspected father and child. The child’s biological mother may also be asked to provide samples.

Doctors need to collect amniotic fluid, placental tissue, or fetal DNA from the blood of pregnant women who wish to undergo prenatal paternity testing.

But if you’re taking an at-home paternity test, the father and child—and sometimes, the mother—only need to submit buccal (cheek) swabs.

Samples from the alleged father and his child are then compared at a laboratory. The mother’s DNA is only used as a baseline for half of the child’s genetic data. 

If the remaining half matches with the father, it proves his paternity. 

But if the genetic markers of the alleged father do not match with the child, it’s proof that he is not your father.

What Is A Maternity DNA Test?


A maternity test is used to prove whether or not a woman is a child's biological mother.

A DNA maternity test is used to confirm or deny the biological relationship of a mother and her child, who may be young or an adult when they take the test.

How Maternity DNA Testing Works

DNA samples are collected from the mother and child. The child’s father may also provide his samples, but this is optional unless it’s for legal purposes.

Maternity testing may need blood samples or swabs containing cheek cells. The test then compares the genetic material of the alleged mother and her child.

A woman with the same genetic markers as her child confirms that she is the biological mother. But if they don’t match, then she isn’t the birth mother.

How Accurate Are Paternity Tests & Maternity Tests?

Maternity and paternity testing are 99.99 percent accurate for confirming whether or not someone is your biological parent.

“Older methods of proving parenthood are ABO blood group typing, analysis of proteins and enzymes, and using human leukocyte antigen (HLA)," says general practitioner Dr. Rizza Mira.

Dr. Mira adds that DNA testing is currently the most accurate method for proving paternity or maternity.

The accuracy of maternity and paternity testing depends on the number of markers tested. Only specific markers are tested to confirm parenthood.

Can A Paternity Test Be Wrong?

Yes. While it’s unlikely for paternity tests to be inaccurate, there are rare cases where they turn up a false positive or a false negative.

Paternity tests may produce incorrect results if:

  • Someone tampered with the test or samples
  • There was human error during testing
  • The suspected parent is closely related to the biological parent
  • The child and/or parent has a genetic mutation

In legal situations where it’s necessary to establish or exclude parentage beyond a reasonable doubt, the court may order more than one test.

Taking several tests can help confirm the accuracy of the first test. 


Maternity and paternity tests may produce inaccurate results. Accuracy is important for your peace of mind, identifying health risks, or if you plan to use the results in court.

Why Do You Need to Confirm Paternity or Maternity?

If you were adopted or got separated from your family at an early age, knowing your biological parents can give you peace of mind.

It also gives you the opportunity to explore your parents’ medical and family history, so you can learn more about your genetic predisposition to diseases.

People who put up their children for adoption or got separated from them due to other circumstances may also use these tests to find closure.

It can help them confirm their genetic relationship to a suspected biological child.

In some cases, proving or disproving paternity or maternity through genetic testing has legal implications. DNA test results can be used to gain or deny legal rights, such as:

  • Child support
  • Child custody
  • Benefits
  • Immigration
  • Inheritance

Maternity and paternity tests may also be used as evidence for criminal investigations and forensics.

Is DNA Paternity Testing Admissible In Court?

Yes, but it depends on the test. Only legal paternity testing provides court-admissible results.

You can use these test results in cases involving child custody and child support. They can also help with immigration and disputes on inheritance.

“For a paternity test to be admissible in court, a third-party must verify the identity of the prospect parent, witness, or collect the DNA samples themselves,” says Dr. Mira.


Paternity testing is generally affordable and costs $150 to $1,000. However, it isn't covered by insurance.

How Much Does A Paternity Test Cost?

DNA paternity tests are priced anywhere from $150 to over $1,000. The actual cost of genetic testing may vary depending on the type of test.

Paternity tests that are performed in a doctor’s office cost about $400 to $800. Home paternity testing is much cheaper and costs an average of $150.

Pregnant women who opt for prenatal paternity testing may have to spend more than $1,000 for the procedure.

Meanwhile, a legal paternity test with court-admissible DNA results costs anywhere from $300 to $500.

Are Paternity Tests Covered By Insurance?

No. Health insurance companies do not cover paternity tests. 

DNA tests (such as paternity testing) are not medical tests used for diagnosing health conditions. So they can’t be covered by your health insurance.

Can You Take A Paternity Test At Home?

Yes. At-home kits like Paternity Depot conveniently test for paternity at home. 

You can order these tests online, collect the DNA samples yourself, and send them back for analysis.

Paternity test results are usually available after 3 to 8 weeks. When they’re ready, you can access them online or have them printed out and delivered by mail.

To protect your privacy when taking genetic tests, most DNA testing companies won’t send your results through email.

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Updated on April 18, 2023
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Updated on April 18, 2023
Dr. Rizza Mira
Dr. Rizza Mira
Medical Reviewer
Dr. Rizza Mira is a medical doctor and a general practitioner who specializes in pediatrics, nutrition, dietetics, and public health.

As a pediatrician, she is dedicated to the general health and well-being of children and expecting parents. She believes that good nutrition, a healthy lifestyle, and prevention of illness are key to ensuring the health of children and their families.

When she’s not in the hospital, Rizza advocates and mobilizes causes like breastfeeding, vaccination drives, and initiatives to prevent illness in the community.
Ada Sandoval
Ada Sandoval
Content Contributor
Ada Sandoval is a B.S. in Nursing graduate and a registered nurse with a heart for abandoned animals. She works as a content writer who specializes in medical-related articles and pet health.
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