DNA profiles can be used to determine biological parentage of individuals. Paternity tests are important when a child’s paternity is in doubt. These tests may be taken just for the peace of mind of an individual or a couple. Sometimes, they are required by courts to settle legal matters relating to parentage, custody, heirship, immigration, and child support.

Whatever the purpose, there are some queries and doubts that people may have about paternity tests. Take a look at some frequently asked questions and the responses that will help you make informed decisions about paternity tests, if and when you require them.

Do the mother and the alleged father both need to be present for the test?

If the paternity test has been ordered by a court and the child is a minor (below 18 years of age), the mother needs to be present and give her signed consent for testing of the child. The mother does not need to be present if the child is above 18 years of age.

If the paternity test is being taken just for the satisfaction of both or either parent, and the mother’s sample is not taken, the alleged father must sign consent for testing of the minor child. 

Is the alleged father required to be present for the test?

The test is supposed to determine paternity. Hence, the alleged father will have to be present for the test and provide DNA samples which will be compared against those of the child.

But if the father is deceased, certain other family members can provide DNA samples in order to verify the paternal line.

What are the different types of samples required?

For paternity tests ordered by the court, finger prick blood samples are taken from the mother, the father and the child. If the child is less than 2 years of age, a heel prick blood sample is taken.

If a paternity test is being taken merely for peace of mind, buccal (cheek) swabs are collected.

How long does it take for samples to be taken and when can you expect the results?

Usually, the time needed to explain the procedure and collect samples takes about 15 to 20 minutes. This may extend a little if the families have many queries.

The results are available in about four weeks.

Where does one give DNA samples?

Self-collection paternity test kits are available if you wish to perform the test yourself at home, but only the results of certified laboratory tests are admissible in court.