What is a Paternity Test?
A paternity test is a method of testing the DNA of a child in order to confirm the identity of the father. It is normally required if the Father of the child isn't known for certain, or if paternity has been disputed by either the Mother or Father. In the case of a dispute between parents, a court order can be made to force an unwilling party to undergo the test.
How is the test done?
In order to rule a man out as the father a blood sample from both the child and both parents is all that is needed (written consent from both parents will be required). This is relatively painless and a quick procedure. However in order to absolutely prove paternity, a slightly more complex test is required. Again this is using a sample of blood,but more modern tests now use samples of saliva so that the cells can be DNA tested with a high degree of accuracy. By examining the genetic code of the DNA, certain 'markers' can be matched up to confirm that both parents genes are present in the child's DNA. Using DNA testing of all three parties in question, the result is better than 99% accurate.
Paternity testing can have serious repercussions if the results aren't quite as expected. Before having a test, you should be fully aware of the emotional distress to all parties that this can cause. In particular consider the child, particularly if they are old enough to understand what is happening. Counselling should be considered before you take a test in order to make the right decision, alternatively it is also useful to parents after a test.
A test should always be carried out with the childs best interest central to the decision to proceed.
Where can i get it done?
Normally your family doctor will be able to tell you where you can get the test done, and in fact he or she can usually take the blood samples themselves.
There are now some 'do it yourself' basic tests that can be bought online or over the counter. They too involve taking swabs from all parties and sending the swabs off to a lab for analysis. However these tests are generally NOT admissible in court.