Questions and Answers About DNA Testing For Paternity
Often with an unexpected pregnancy, it becomes important to prove who the father of the baby is. Whether you’re a mom trying to get child support or whether you’re a dad trying to get parental rights, this can be a very stressful situation.
We’re going to look at the most commonly asked questions about DNA testing and proving paternity. Hopefully, having some answers for your questions will ease your mind, reduce your stress and help you develop a plan.
How does a DNA test work?
Every child inherits half their DNA from their mother and half from their father. A DNA test looks for a 50% match between a child and potential parent to prove or disprove the blood relationship.
How accurate is a DNA test?
DNA can determine paternity with 99.99% accuracy.
When can I do a DNA test?
It is possible to do a DNA test before a child is born. The OB/GYN can take a blood sample from the mother and from the possible father any time after the 8th week of pregnancy. This test analyzes the baby’s DNA (which is found in the mother’s blood) and the father’s DNA and looks for the 50% match.
The baby’s DNA can also be tested through an amniocentesis or through Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS). Both amniocentesis and CVS include risks of miscarriage and other side effects, so most medical providers do not perform these tests only to prove paternity. The American Pregnancy Association recommends using the non-invasive testing of the mother’s blood or waiting until after the baby’s birth to do a DNA test.
You can also test the DNA after the baby is born. This is done by collecting DNA from the umbilical cord at the time of delivery. Of course, you can also do a cheek-swab DNA test after the baby is born. This involves swabbing the inside of a baby’s cheek and the potential father’s cheek with a special cotton swab.
How long does it take to get results?
This depends on which lab you use. Some labs can get results in 1-5 business days. Other labs can take 1-2 weeks.
How much does it cost?
Again, this depends on which lab you use. Some DNA labs offer less expensive tests called Curiosity Tests or Peace of Mind tests. These results are not accepted in court so they cannot legally prove paternity. Kits for Curiosity Tests can be ordered online or purchased at a drugstore for as little as $10 – $99. Court-admissible DNA tests can cost anywhere from $400 – $2000, depending on how the test is done and where you get it done.
What’s different about the DNA test allowed as evidence in court?
In order for DNA results to be used in court, you must have documentation and proof that the child, mother, and potential father have all been properly identified (with legal ID), that the DNA has been properly collected and handled and that the person testing is a third-party with no interest in the outcome.
If you think you’ll need the DNA results in court, you probably need to speak with a lawyer before choosing which DNA test to do. A lawyer can give guidance and advice about which lab to use.
If you’re considering a DNA paternity test, we hope this gives you some information you might have been lacking and helps you figure out your next right step. As always, if you just need someone to talk with, our team is here to support you.