Are Home Paternity Tests Reliable?

Establishing paternity is an important step to take toward your child’s wellbeing. If you are thinking about skipping the lab and conducting an at-home paternity test to determine whom your child’s biological father is, consider everything this option entails. A paternity test can decide several crucial elements in your child’s life, and you need to be sure of the accuracy of the test results before taking any other measures.

The Importance of Establishing Paternity

Establishing paternity has many benefits, ranging from giving your child a sense of identity to giving the legal father rights to the child. Children can also benefit from knowing their family medical history. Doctors can treat patients more accurately with a full understanding of both parents’ medical histories. Establishing paternity is necessary if you want your child to receive the support of both parents, especially in the event of a divorce. Your child can also receive important medical insurance, social security, and other benefits from his or her legal father. Finally, your child can receive inheritances from both parents if you establish paternity.

How Do the California Courts Establish Paternity?

In California, the process of establishing paternity, or legal fatherhood, differs depending on whether the parents are married. When parents are married at the time of birth, the courts automatically establish paternity. Unmarried parents can sign a voluntary Declaration of Paternity, with or without a paternity test, when a child is born. In California, this is the only way to place an unmarried father’s name on a child’s birth certificate. If the father is not present at the hospital following a birth, the mother cannot list him as the father on the birth certificate. Both parents will have to sign the Declaration together at a later date.

A parent may want to order a DNA paternity test if the identity of the father is unknown. A paternity test can settle a dispute if a father does or does not believe he is the biological father of a child. If a father has reason to doubt his paternity, ordering a test can remove the duties and responsibilities that come with fatherhood, such as paying child support in a divorce. In other cases, it can give a father legal rights to a child if the mother tries to deny paternity. Doubts regarding paternity can be damaging to everyone involved, including the child who deserves to know who his or her biological father is.

At-Home vs. Lab Paternity Tests

Choosing an at-home paternity test has its pros and cons. It’s typically cheaper than lab DNA tests, but it may be less accurate. An at-home test will suit your needs if you simply want peace of mind, but it will likely not be admissible as evidence in court. Decide whether an at-home test will serve your specific needs before spending unnecessary time and money.

Not all at-home DNA tests are equal. To ensure you purchase an at-home paternity test that will deliver accurate results, check if the test is American Association of Blood Banks and Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments certified. Verify the quality of the kit you purchase, and see how long it has been sitting on the shelf. The number of genetic markers the test includes on the analysis is also important—21 is more accurate than 16. The ability to run the test more than once can also help ensure accurate results.

An at-home paternity test is not a decision you should base entirely on price. A lab DNA test may be more expensive, but you will receive guaranteed accurate results that you can use for legal purposes down the road. If there is any chance that you will end up in court over a paternity dispute, do not opt for the at-home test. If, however, an at-home test for peace of mind is all you need, trust the right manufacturers.