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How is Paternity Determined?

Paternity testing has been around since the 1920's, but it was based on blood typing back then, and was not very conclusive. In fact, blood typing could only eliminate 30% of the population from being the possible father, since blood typing basically was just determining which blood types would be impossible for the child to have, based on the blood types of the parents.

We have come a long way since then, and paternity is now established by DNA testing, which is highly accurate and has an accuracy range of 90-99%. It can exclude a man who is not the biological father, and also show the likelihood of paternity if a man is not excluded. Paternity testing can be done either before or after birth, and there are many different types of paternity testing available.

Prenatal paternity testing can be done as early as the 10th week of the pregnancy, but does carry some risk to the mother and developing baby as the method for prenatal paternity testing is either by amniocentesis or CVS (Chorionic Villus Sampling). Due to the increased risk of miscarriage, these tests have historically been discouraged for the sole reason of determining paternity. However, this is changing as these tests become more accepted and routine.

Postnatal paternity testing (after the baby is born) can be done immediately by taking blood from the umbilical cord, which is very convenient and effective, and carries no risk to the baby. Blood collection and testing can also be done at any age to determine paternity. Only a small amount of blood is collected, usually a teaspoon or less, and is usually tolerated quite well by both children and babies. Lastly, a buccal swab, otherwise known as a cheek swab, can also be done. This type of test is performed by rubbing a Q-tip on the inside of the cheek. Since DNA is present in every cell of the human body, a cheek swab is as effective as an actual blood sample. The creation of the buccal swab testing has made the creation of the home paternity test possible. While home DNA tests are highly accurate and very economical and convenient, they are usually not acceptable for legal purposes, since it is generally impossible to verify the identity of the individuals who were tested.

The cost of paternity testing can range from approximately $400 to $1,500, and prenatal paternity testing is often more costly. Most paternity tests are conducted to establish legal responsibility and financial responsibility (child support) but the emotional and social aspects of paternity are even more important. History shows that if a man is conclusively shown to be the father, via paternity testing, he is more likely to provide not only financial support, but emotional support as well. He is more likely to bond with the child, and take an active part in his/her life.

If you have questions regarding paternity testing or establishing paternity, please feel free to call us. We are here to help!

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