How a Paternity Test is Administered
A paternity test plays an important
role in determining parentage as well as assigning
financial responsibility to a father. In order to do
this reliably, the choice of how a paternity test is
administered must be carefully weighed.
Before a child is born
When you need or want to establish the child’s paternity prior to giving birth, there are two different methods that are usually employed for paternity testing. Since both types of pre-natal paternity tests can have a potential impact on the fetus a doctor's consent is necessary to perform the test.
The first type of test is through amniocentesis when the child is in the fourteenth through twenty-fourth week of its development in the pregnancy. This paternity test is performed by a doctor in a procedure room with a needle going directly into the uterus to remove a small amount of amniotic fluid. This fluid will contain the DNA that will be used for the paternity test.
There are risks associated with this procedure, however, as it involves amniotic fluid. Risks include harm to the baby, leaking amniotic fluid, bleeding and cramping. To ensure that risks are limited during this type of paternity test, a doctor will have to consent to the procedure, taking into consideration the health of the mother and of the child.
Another option for paternity testing is CVS, or Chorionic Villi Sampling. This is a test that takes a needle or a tube that is inserted into the vagina by a physician in order to obtain chorionic villi. Using an ultrasound, the physician will attempt to obtain these villi which are small pieces of tissue that are attached to the uterus walls. Since this villi and the fetus are related to the production of the original egg that was fertilized, they will have a similar genetic makeup and thus be a good candidate for a sample for a paternity test.
Unlike the amniocentesis, the CVS procedure can be done much earlier in the pregnancy, at about ten to thirteen weeks. However, there are still risks associated with bleeding and cramping as well as possible miscarriage by encouraging contractions.
After a child is born
Paternity testing becomes less risky after a child is born. Samples simply need to be collected from the mother, father, and child and based upon those samples all of the genetic markers in the DNA can be used to establish paternity.
The easiest of all of the collection methods is via cheek swab for saliva and cheek cells. The collection is so simple in fact that at home paternity testing kits are available. In the doctor’s office, blood samples can also be taken and tested for paternity. Less likely samples include ones from umbilical cord blood, semen, various tissues, hairs, etc.
A matter of price
One of the things that many parents do not consider when deciding to get a paternity test done is the overall costs of the procedure. When paternity tests are done prior to the birth, the testing is much more invasive and thus more expensive. Many insurance companies will not provide payments for these services, though many will request payment as a part of the paternity settlement.
Testing of a child after birth is much less expensive, especially if an at home test kit is used. If you do choose the at home testing route be sure to look for an AABB approved laboratory as they have been tested for the highest quality and accuracy..
What’s admissible in court?
If the admissibility of the test results in court is of concern to you, be sure to check with your local municipality regarding their requirements. Most areas will require that the testing be performed by a AABB approved laboratory. Some will also require that the testing be performed in a doctor's office, not because of inaccuracies of home tests, but to ensure that the samples are collected properly and from the correct individuals.