Asking for a paternity test can be uncomfortable, especially if you and your partner are in a committed relationship. Even when the conversation is handled delicately, there are bound to be hurt feelings and additional conversations that follow. While it may seem like a lose/lose situation, it’s far less painful to determine the father of a child sooner rather than later. To help prepare for this difficult discussion, consider the following.
If you are the potential father asking the mother for a paternity test
While it is possible to get a paternity test without the mother’s knowledge, it is highly recommended to include her in the process so as to get the most accurate results possible. Because you already know she is the mother, submitting her DNA with both the child’s and your samples provides genetic scientists two sets of DNA against which to compare, resulting in a more conclusive analysis.
If you wish to include her DNA in paternity testing for stronger results, it’s important to include a couple of things for clarification when having your discussion with her:
1. Explain your reasons for wanting to verify the child’s paternity
First, you should explain why you would like a paternity test, whether it is to ease your mind or eliminate even the smallest suspicions. However, remember that to avoid coming off as insulting or offensive, you shouldn’t be accusatory. Your respect for her will make the mother more likely to participate in the paternity testing process.
2. Have a rational discussion about your future involvement with the child and the mother
To make your desires clear, no matter what the paternity test results say, it’s necessary to discuss next steps. If results indicate that you are not the father, both you and your partner should have a clear idea of the child’s future. Do you want to stay in the relationship? Do you have any interest in being a part of the child’s life? If you are the father but do not wish to remain with your partner, are you ready to accept the legal responsibilities? A candid conversation about this will eliminate unnecessary stress and confusion as the paternity testing process moves forward.
If you are the mother asking the potential father for a paternity test
If you are unable or would prefer not to have this conversation, it is possible to get a paternity test without the father, but it will still require testing someone from his immediate family.
If you do choose to have this conversation and involve him in the process, there are several things you should mention:
1. Express interest in taking a paternity test for his own well-being
Explain that your interest in a paternity test stems from your concern for his own well-being. Informing him that you are not trying to deceive him and would like to give him the opportunity to know for certain if he is the father can reassure him and let him know your heart is in the right place.
2. Discuss the future of your relationship and the child in both possible outcomes.
The next important step in this conversation is to establish an understanding of what’s next, for both the child and your relationship. Discuss each of your wishes for both possible scenarios, whether he is or is not the father. Possible questions to consider are: Do you still love each other? Do you want to stay together, even if he is not the father? What would be best for the child? Expressing your opinions in all of these matters will give the conversation some closure with as few lingering concerns as possible. Painful as it can be, it’s best for all people involved (including your child) for the adults to have mature discussions and then make important decisions.
In the event that DNA test results prove a man is not the father, there are resources available to guide you through the next steps, whether he would still like to be involved in child’s life or take a legal paternity test to establish the child’s true parentage in court.
Asking a partner for a paternity test is hard, and the challenge does not end after your initial conversation. For information on organizations and services to get you through this difficult time, check out these other helpful resources.
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