An alleged father’s genetic material compared with that of a child’s genetic material found in DNA samples, is used to prove biological parentage. Paternity test results may be required in courts to settle legal matters like custody or child support. The biological mother’s DNA sample is also taken, improving the statistical result of the paternity test.

If you are getting a paternity test done for legal matters, it is necessary to do it in the right way and at the right place, with all the necessary consents and people present.

Here is a short guide that can help you understand paternity tests and how to get them done in legal matters relating to child support.

The difference between a legal and non-legal paternity test

The main difference between these two types of tests is that a legal paternity must be administered by a professional, while a non-legal paternity test can be conducted at home using a self-collection sample kit. Only the results of a legal paternity test will be admissible in court.

Certain states do allow you to conduct the test yourself at home, as long as there is a third party to witness the collection and transport of your DNA sample. But make sure you check the legal requirements of your state before you do this.

Persons who can request a paternity test

Depending on the purpose of determining paternity, there are multiple persons who can request a paternity test. These include a prosecuting attorney, a divorce lawyer, a child’s legal guardian, a government social worker, a legal parent, the representative of a minor child or an alleged father or mother.

There is a general rule though, that the person requesting a paternity test has to prove a potential relationship between the child and an alleged parent.

The legalities vary from case to case and depending on the state.

Cost of Legal Paternity Tests

A legal paternity test can cost anything between $300 and $500. Non legal paternity tests are cheaper but are not valid in court.

Paternity Tests for Child Support Cases

In legal cases relating to child support, paternity tests help to determine biological parentage, ensure fair treatment of all family members involved and appropriate share of responsibility.

There are multiple steps involved in a paternity test. Make sure that you get them right so that your test results are legally valid.

Steps Involved In A Legal Paternity Test

  • Sample collection

DNA samples are collected by a professional, from the child and alleged parents through a blood sample or a cheek swab, in a lab or hospital.

  • Sample transportation

The process of sample transportation (performed by a third party) is called ‘chain of custody’ and is very important in court.

  • Sample testing

Ensure that the sample is tested in a lab recognized as acceptable by the court.

  • Submission of results to the court

The lab may send the results directly to the court, to you or to both parties together. Having the results sent directly to the court is recommended.