A DNA paternity test is a widely available DNA test that is used to find out if a particular man is the true biological father of a particular child. As a minimum, samples are needed from both the father and child but it is best to test the mother too as this makes the test results more powerful for the reasons described below. Taking samples is quick, easy and painless and can be done using home test kits. The kits contain swabs that are rubbed on the inside of your mouth to collect cheek cells (also known as buccal cells) that are a good source of your DNA.
The reason DNA is useful for paternity testing is because it is passed from parents to their children; a property that can be exploited to discover whether people are genuinely biologically related. If anyone wants to test or confirm their biological relationship with a child or children, then there are now quick and easy routine DNA tests widely available at a price that is affordable to most families.
For paternity testing of parents and children, other than unborn children, the type of testing recommended, and widely offered, is STR testing. When there is a match, tests typically express a probability of paternity greater than 99.9%, which is the equivalent of a Combined Paternity Index (CPI) of 1000 meaning the chances of non-paternity are 1000 to 1 against. If there is no match to a supposed father then the test provides conclusive proof that the tested man is not the child’s biological father.
People seek paternity and other relationship tests for various reasons; sometimes it’s just a double check if there are a few doubts, the so-called “peace-of-mind” test. Other times there may be legal issues such as child support, custody, adoption, inheritance or immigration to consider. If you are thinking about having a test be sure to think through the possible consequences for the child, yourself and others and be sure that it is the right course to take.
Genetic testing companies offer slightly different services for peace-of-mind and legal paternity tests so if you are choosing it is important to be clear which best suits your needs (see Before Buying A Test).