What Is Required for a Paternity Test?

By Jackie Whalen
Paternity tests, any doubt, fatherhood
family image by Yoram Astrakhan from Fotolia.com

A paternity test is critical in establishing a father's moral and legal obligation to a child. When a woman is uncertain of who the father of her child is, science has made it possible for her to find out. By comparing the DNA of the potential father to the DNA of the child, parentage will be determined to a 100 percent certainty.


Pre-natal and post-natal paternity tests are available. Amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling, or CVS, are two types of pre-natal tests. Amniocentesis tests the amniotic fluid, while CVS examines the tissue surrounding the uterus. After birth, DNA tests can be performed with samples of blood, tissue, hair or a cheek swab. A cheek swab, or buccal swab, is the most commonly performed paternity test today. It is a painless and quick way to test for paternity.


Paternity tests performed at a lab can cost $400 to $2,000, depending on what type of tests are done. Home kits can be purchased over the counter for as little as $79, but the results cannot be used in court. The American Pregnancy Association states that it is preferable to use a laboratory that is approved by the American Association of Blood Banks.


A paternity test clears up all questions about who sired a child and allows the father and child to begin a relationship. Establishing paternity also enables the child to have legal rights, such as health insurance, veterans benefits and Social Security benefits.

Time Frame

Paternity should be determined as soon as possible. Most states have laws mandating when paternity can be established or unestablished, so the quicker, the better. Both amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling can be done between the 10th and 24th week of pregnancy.

Test Results

Most paternity tests results will be back within three days. Test results are confidential and are only released to the participants and their legal representatives.