Home Paternity Test Now

your source for DNA paternity testing information

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
What is a Paternity Test Basics on a DNA Test

Basics on a DNA Test 

A paternity test is a DNA test performed to establish the biological father of a child. This is done in a lab using samples of bodily material. We each possess a unique genetic pattern, half of which is inherited from each of our parents. Labs use DNA testing to look at this pattern in both the father and the child.

To run a DNA test, the DNA collected is extracted from the participant's sample and then purified. A profile is created which reflects the genetic fingerprint for each person tested. The profile for the child is then compared with that of the possible father. Such testing can prove with 100% certainty that an individual is not the father or with a 99.9% or greater probability that he is the father of a particular child.

To exclude a potential father, a lab will look for markers on the child's DNA that are not present in either parent. To include a potential father, the lab uses a DNA test to find the frequency of sites where genetic information of both the father and child match, then calculates the probability of that person being the biological father.

Samples for a DNA test can be collected in a noninvasive and pain-free way through a simple cheek swab. Other methods of collection involve blood (sometimes called the pin prick method), tissue samples (including the umbilical cord at birth), and prenatal sampling of fluid or tissue. Samples can be obtained at any age and even in the event that the potential father is missing or deceased or the mother refuses to participate. Parties do not have to be at the same location at the same time, so matters of scheduling, distance, and strained relationships need not interfere.

10% Off Father's Day Deal at Care.com - Coupon Code: DAD09

The cost of a DNA test for paternity is approximately $250-2000, depending on where you live and the type of test being utilized. Less expensive, at home versions can be used, but care must be taken during the collection process to ensure the samples are collected as instructed. Some companies offer assisted self testing where a representative will observe as you collect your samples if you're unsure of the steps. This involves additional cost.

For legally admissible results involving a DNA test, collection is made by an impartial third party. A trained collector creates a chain of custody and proper documentation is established. Participants are asked to provide identification at the time a sample is collected. A photograph and set of fingerprints may also be taken at the time the sample is given, along with a signed consent. While some kits do offer collection with only a single disinterested witness present to attest to the procedure, these results are not usually admissible in court.

Results of a DNA test can be given confidentially online, by phone, or through the mail. Insurance plans and Medicaid often do not cover such testing. Many companies currently offer payment plans, but will hold the results until the testing is paid for in full. Participants should be fully informed about any tests that will be completed involving their genetic information, what privacy policy and procedures are involved (when, how, and to whom the results will be disclosed), and the length of time samples may be saved.

Finding a qualified (accredited) lab is important to the process as there is currently no mandatory oversight. Facilities can choose to farm their work out to the cheapest lab. It is recommended that persons who want to be assured of the quality of the results of a DNA test deal with an accredited lab. For accreditation, a lab is inspected in a number of areas involving procedures, staff and operations, and is blind tested for quality. The American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) is the primary organization behind establishing proper procedures for testing and their site offers a list of labs that meet their standards for performance.