How does paternity testing work?
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How does paternity testing work?

If you are going through a custody and child support dispute, either you or your former partner may have some lingering doubts about paternity. That is, the identity of the biological father may not be crystal clear. If so, paternity testing is likely to be in your future.

In the past, determining paternity was not an exact science. Often, judges or juries had to examine the facial features of the child and compare them to the alleged father’s features. Because of modern advancements in science, though, there is now a precise way to confirm paternity.

A simple cheek swab

According to the Cleveland Clinic, there are two equally reliable ways to perform paternity testing. With the first, a simple cheek swab, the mother, father and child rub a cotton swab on the inside of their cheeks. This painless swab pics up skin cells that have DNA in them.

A more-invasive blood draw

It is also possible to use a blood draw to determine paternity. If you opt for a blood draw, a phlebotomist uses a needle to remove a small blood sample from a vein in your arm. This blood, of course, has DNA in it.

DNA sequencing

Whether your sample comes from a swab or a blood draw, paternity testing unfolds in the same way. Specifically, technicians at a lab use DNA sequencing to find matches between the alleged father’s DNA and the child’s. If the matches are not present, the alleged father is not the biological one. If there is a match, though, the odds of paternity are well over 99.99%.

Ultimately, because of the accuracy of modern DNA testing, submitting to a test is the most effective way both to confirm and to disprove paternity.


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