How to Get a Trustworthy Paternity Test
Updated on March 18, 2024
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DNA Testing
How to Get a Trustworthy Paternity Test

Key Takeaways

To get a trustworthy paternity test, select a well-known and reliable DNA testing company.

Look for a testing company with certifications from organizations like the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) or the International Standards Organization (ISO). This ensures that the lab meets high-quality standards and provides accurate results.

Reading customer reviews can also help you check if they are dependable and trustworthy.

You should also identify why you need a paternity test in the first place. If it’s for legal purposes, go for a test at an authorized facility because they follow strict rules and are recognized by the law.

However, if you want to explore your genetics without spending too much or just out of curiosity, use at-home DNA testing kits. Choose a DNA test from a reliable brand so you can still be sure everything is accurate, even from the comfort of your home.

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What is a Paternity Test, and Why is it Important?

Paternity testing is a process of determining the biological father of a child through a DNA test.1 It can do several things, such as:

  • Confirm or establish paternity
  • Help make decisions around child custody, child support, and inheritance disputes
  • Ensure that the rights and responsibilities of all parties involved are upheld by providing concrete evidence of biological ties
  • Offer peace of mind and closure

Establishing paternity through a DNA test can help ensure that the child will get the proper support it needs and even protect any involved parties.

How Do Paternity Tests Work?

Paternity tests compare the DNA of a child and a potential father to determine if they share a biological relationship.

Here are the steps of DNA paternity testing:

  1. Sample collection – The paternity test starts by collecting DNA samples from the child and the potential father. This is done through cheek swabs, which are painless and non-invasive. Sometimes, blood samples can also be used (it depends on the kind of test and company).
  2. DNA testing analysis – Experts analyze specific regions of the collected DNA samples to look for similarities and differences between the child and the potential father.
  3. Genetic markers – The DNA paternity test focuses on specific genetic markers.2 These are called Short Tandem Repeats (STRs). These markers are short sequences of DNA that repeat a certain number of times. Everyone inherits these markers from their parents.
  4. Comparison – The child’s STR markers are compared with those of the potential father. If they share a significant number of matching markers, it indicates a strong likelihood that the tested man is the biological father.

Why Do People Opt for a DNA Paternity Test?

People have various reasons for doing this. Usually, it involves resolving questions and issues regarding the child’s birth father.

Here are a few more common reasons why people choose to do DNA paternity tests:

  • Child support – They can establish paternity, rights, and responsibilities in child support cases. The legal system needs to identify biological parents accurately.
  • Inheritance – Similar to legal issues about child support, paternity tests can establish inheritance rights and entitlements to family assets and estates.
  • Immigration concerns – When applying for immigration visas or citizenship based on family relationships, authorities may require proof of biological relationship. Paternity tests can supply this evidence.3
  • Medical reasons – Knowing the biological father’s identity can be crucial in some medical situations. This is to understand inherited health conditions or for medical treatments that may rely on genetic information.
  • Personal closure – People who doubt whether they are the birth father may seek this DNA test for closure and peace of mind.
  • Adoption and surrogacy – In cases of adoption or surrogacy, paternity tests can clear up legal and biological relationships.

Steps to Obtain a Reliable Paternity Test

Obtaining a reliable DNA paternity test involves a series of steps:

1. Select a Trustworthy Provider

Start by selecting a trusted DNA diagnostics center.

2. Identify the Type of Test

Decide whether you need a legal test or non-legal DNA paternity test.

A legal test is admissible in court and requires strict chain of custody procedures. A non-legal test is for personal use and doesn’t follow these strict guidelines.

3. Order the Test Kit

If you don’t need a DNA test done by a legal entity, you can often order a DNA paternity test kit online or buy one from a pharmacy. Legal tests usually require an appointment at an authorized facility.

4. Follow the Instructions

Follow the instructions carefully to collect DNA samples. This typically involves using cheek swabs or providing a blood sample. Ensure proper labeling for DNA tests to avoid mix-ups.

Send the collected samples to the DNA diagnostics center as instructed. Legal tests may require you to visit an authorized facility for sample collection.

5. Testing and Reviewing

The laboratory will analyze the DNA samples between the child and the potential father. This process can take a few days.

A legal and an at-home paternity test are two types of DNA tests used to determine biological relationships.

A legal paternity test is done for legal purposes, such as child custody disputes, child support claims, immigration cases, and inheritance matters. The results can be used as evidence in court or for other legal proceedings.

Meanwhile, an at-home paternity test is for personal use. It’s chosen when there’s no immediate need for the results in a legal context. Common reasons include satisfying personal curiosity, exploring genealogy, or confirming biological relationships within a family.

Pros of Legal Paternity Testing

  • Can be used as evidence in court
  • More credible results
  • Professional collection reduces the possibility of contamination
  • High reliability
  • Can provide court-approved documentation

Cons of Legal Paternity Testing

  • More expensive
  • Must be done in a lab, which is less private and less convenient
  • Has strict legal requirements
  • Takes more time

Pros of At-Home Paternity Testing

  • More affordable
  • Can be done at home, which is private and convenient
  • User-friendly
  • Provides quick results
  • Perfect for personal use

Cons of At-Home Paternity Testing

  • Not legally valid
  • Higher risk of contamination
  • Limited paper trail

How to Purchase and Schedule a Paternity Test?

To purchase and schedule a paternity test, you must first determine whether you need a legal one or an at-home test.

Are you seeking it for personal knowledge or legal reasons? The distinction will guide you in selecting the correct type of test.

For legal reasons, you’ll need to find a reputable DNA paternity test company. Look for customer reviews, certifications, and accreditations to ensure their reliability.

Once you’ve decided on the provider, book an appointment with them. Either schedule one online or through the phone.

Otherwise, order a paternity test kit of your choice. You can do this online or personally buy from a pharmacy.

How is the DNA Sample Collected?

DNA collection methods for paternity testing may involve cheek swabs, blood collection, and, occasionally, other methods.

Here’s an explanation of these collection methods:

  • Cheek swab – A sterile swab is rubbed against the inner cheek to collect cheek cells. It is non-invasive, painless, and easy to perform. It is suitable for both adults and infants.
  • Blood – It involves drawing a small amount of blood, typically from a vein in the arm. Blood samples yield high-quality DNA.
  • Saliva – Some DNA testing, like those for ancestry or health, may use saliva samples collected in a tube.
  • Hair – A few strands of hair with the hair follicle can be used for DNA testing. This is less common and may not be as reliable as cheek swabs or blood samples.
  • Amniocentesis and Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) – These invasive procedures are used during pregnancy to collect DNA from the fetus for prenatal paternity testing. They involve extracting DNA from amniotic fluid or placental tissue.

Understanding Paternity Test Results

Understanding paternity test results is critical in establishing the possibility of a biological relationship between an alleged father and a child.

The paternity test results can be presented in a report provided by the testing laboratory. Typically, they contain several key elements that help understand the outcome.

You’ll encounter the “Probability of Paternity” (PoP), expressed as a percentage. PoP signifies the likelihood that the tested man is the child’s biological father. A high PoP (above 99%) strongly supports the idea of paternity, while a lower PoP suggests non-paternity.4

The result may also indicate “inclusions” and “exclusions.”

Inclusions occur when the alleged father’s DNA matches the child’s at all the tested genetic markers, indicating a supportive case for paternity.

Exclusions happen when mismatches occur at multiple genetic markers, suggesting the alleged father is not the biological parent.

How to Get a Trustworthy Paternity Test 1

The test report may sometimes indicate a “Combined Paternity Index” (CPI). This statistical calculation combines the results of multiple genetic markers to provide an overall measure of paternity likelihood.5

A higher CPI suggests stronger evidence for paternity, with a CPI of 100 or more often considered conclusive.

Lastly, it’s crucial to recognize whether you have “legal” or “non-legal” results.

Legal paternity test results are obtained following strict procedures and can be used in court. Non-legal results may not meet these standards and are typically for personal knowledge only.

Costs and Considerations

What is the Typical Cost of a Paternity Test?

The cost of a paternity test may vary depending on the type, service provider, and other factors. The following will give you an idea of the cost of getting a paternity test:

  • Legal test – Starts at $300
  • Non-legal – Starts at $79
  • Prenatal – Starts at $400
  • At-home – Starts at $30

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Updated on March 18, 2024
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5 sources cited
Updated on March 18, 2024
  1. Paternity Testing: Blood Types and DNA.” Nature Education.

  2. Learn About Paternity Testing.” Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

  3. DNA Relationship Testing Procedures.” US Department of State — Bureau of Consular Affairs.

  4. An Expository Review of Two Methods of Calculating the Paternity Probability.” National Library of Medicine.

  5. Paternity Index.” Wikipedia.

Will Hunter
Will Hunter
Content Contributor
Will is a content writer for KnowYourDNA. He received his B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Will has 7 years of experience writing health-related content, with an emphasis on nutrition, alternative medicine, and longevity.