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What is the process of a paternity DNA test?

Some Massachusetts residents who are questioning paternity may be interested in the way it is established. Paternity testing uses DNA from the parents and the child to establish or disprove biological fatherhood. If paternity is proven, the father will be given the rights and responsibilities due him. If not, the father is not legally responsible for the care and sustenance of the child.

DNA is specific for each individual and is received from both parents. By examining the DNA from the mother and the alleged father, it is possible to say if the baby received the father's DNA. The best specimen for testing is obtained from blood samples although cheek swabs and hair samples may be used. The test may be done immediately after birth. While prenatal testing is available, it may result in risk to the child.

DNA results prove the reported father sired the child by at least a 99 percent probability rate. Conversely, it can categorically disprove paternity. Test results are usually available in 72 to 96 hours. Under certain conditions, such as absence of the mother's DNA, the time may be extended. Test results are confidential, and obtaining a sample from the child is court ordered. If the child is a minor, a legal guardian may give permission. The credibility of DNA paternity testing rests in part on the lab's accreditation. The American Association of Blood Banks evaluates the lab and approves it for paternity testing.

Aside from child support, paternity may be useful in custody disputes, citizenship, medical history information, health insurance and inheritance. Once established, the child may also receive benefits from the father in the event of his death. An attorney may provide insight into paternity testing and help structure appropriate support and custodial rights once it is established for the court's approval.


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