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Can Ancestry Tests Determine Your Father or Mother?
Updated on February 7, 2024
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Can Ancestry Tests Determine Your Father or Mother?
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Genetic ancestry tests like 23andMe and Ancestry DNA can provide genetic information about your father or mother but won't necessarily help you identify them if they haven't:

  • Also taken the test, and
  • Allowed themselves to be found on the DNA testing site

There's no absolute guarantee they can determine a parent or find family members. However, they can be useful if you’re adopted or were separated from your birth family at a young age and want to reconnect or find lost relatives.

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

Can Ancestry Tests Determine Your Father or Mother? 6

These genetic tests can also help you learn more about your family’s history. However, if you specifically want to establish paternity or maternity directly, you need to take a different type of genetic test known as paternity or maternity testing.

These tests can accurately tell 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 test kits can uncover your ancestral origins, which can help research your family history or build your family tree by giving you an estimate of where you may have come from, as well as other people who share genetic similarities with you.

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

Ancestry testing can also help you find relatives you didn’t know about or people from a certain area your ancestors came from. The more DNA you share with a person, the more likely you are to be closely related.

Can Ancestry Tests Determine Your Father or Mother? 7

Source: 123rf

Ancestry tests do this by comparing genetic markers in your DNA identified and observed in populations from certain regions.1 For example, some sequences in your DNA may match those from certain parts of Europe, hinting at some European heritage.

Remember, however, that ancestry testing is not 100% accurate and has its limitations. It's making educated guesses, at best, with the sample it's given. So if your sample is well-collected, has been handled properly, and goes to a testing facility that analyzes it with the most accurate technology, you have better chances of getting to know your ancestry and yourself.

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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.

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

DNA Relatives use 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 is used to prove or deny the biological relationship between a father and a child. This can happen at any stage in the child's life for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • Legal reasons like proving paternity for child support
  • Child custody cases
  • Inheritance
  • Confirming family health history
  • Peace of mind

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

Paternity testing is pretty reliable, with a 90 to 99% accuracy rate.2

While some companies offer at-home testing kits, remember that paternity tests done for legal reasons may have different requirements and may have to be done exclusively in a lab or clinic.3 Make sure you understand what your options are before taking one.


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

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.

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

Can Ancestry Tests Determine Your Father or Mother? 8

Source: 123rf

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

What Is A Maternity DNA Test?

A DNA maternity test is used to confirm or deny the biological relationship of a mother and her child. This can, again, happen at any point in the child's life. This usually happens when a child is separated from their mother at a young age.

It can be done for similar reasons as paternity testing, like:

  • Legal reasons like proving paternity for child support
  • Child custody cases
  • Inheritance
  • Confirming family health history
  • Peace of mind

Maternity testing is also pretty accurate, with up to 99% of them being reliably correct.


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

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.

Can Ancestry Tests Determine Your Father or Mother? 9

Source: 123rf

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. DNA testing is the most accurate method for proving paternity or maternity.

Maternity and paternity testing accuracy 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 that paternity tests will be inaccurate, there are rare cases where they turn up a false positive or 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 allows you 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 prospective parent or witness or collect the DNA samples themselves.


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

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Source: 123rf

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 in a doctor’s office cost about $400 to $800. Home paternity testing is much cheaper and costs between $130 and $200.

Pregnant women who opt for prenatal paternity testing may have to spend more, somewhere from $400 to $2,000 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 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, and send them back for analysis.

Paternity test results are usually available after 3 to 8 weeks. You can access them online or have them printed out and delivered by mail when ready.

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 February 7, 2024
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Updated on February 7, 2024
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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