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What is a Paternity Test?

On behalf of The Law Offices of Cindy D. Sackrin posted in Paternity on Wednesday, April 1, 2015.

We are all generally familiar with what paternity tests are, however, if you are involved in a paternity action or paternity dispute, you may have some anxiety about how they are conducted and how accurate paternity test results are. Paternity testing is used to determine if a man, usually referred to as the putative father, is the biological father of a child.

To conduct a paternity test, DNA testing is conducted on a small amount of fluid or tissue from both the child and putative father. DNA is considered a unique genetic fingerprint which is why it can be used to determine the identity of a child's biological father. Typically blood samples, or cells collected from inside the cheek, are used to test to determine if the putative father and child are a genetic match.

DNA paternity testing is considered highly accurate and can determine that the putative father is highly likely to be the biological father of the child with 99.9 percent accuracy and can also exclude a putative father as not being the biological father of a child with 100 percent accuracy.

DNA paternity testing can be performed before a child is born and can also be performed using a home kit. If the home kit testing instructions are properly followed, the results can be accurate. Home DNA tests cannot be used for paternity purposes in court because they are not properly witnessed and other requirements may also not be met. If the court has ordered the paternity test, it will be conducted by a lab designated or assigned by the court.

To determine the paternity of a child, a paternity action can be initiated with the court and a DNA paternity test can be ordered. Paternity determinations have important implications both legally and emotionally for the child, father and family. Child support and child custody determinations can depend on the outcome of a paternity test which it is why it is useful to understand both the purposes of paternity determinations and how paternity testing is conducted.

Source: My.ClevelandClinic.org, "DNA Paternity Test," Accessed March 31, 2015

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