Establishing paternity (fatherhood) can get tricky in the legal world since being the “legal” father can be distinctly different than being the “biological” father. Fatherhood is usually determined first by marriage. Although all states have differing laws for establishing paternity, most state laws say that if a married woman gives birth to a child, the husband is the “legal” father. But what happens if the woman isn’t married? This is where establishing paternity can get complicated.
Though most children are born to a mother and a father, the CDC reported in 2012 that out of the almost 4 million U.S. births, 40.7% of those children were born to an unmarried mother. When an unmarried woman needs to establish paternity for the sake of child support and child custody, she usually has two options.
- The first option for establishing paternity when there is no “legal” father is by voluntary declaration of paternity. Both parties, mother and father, voluntarily sign and consent to being the child’s legal parents and are in agreement that the other is also the parent.
- The other option is to establish paternity through a court order. This is where the legal paternity test comes into play.
Legal Paternity Testing
In order to prove paternity for court purposes, a legal paternity test is usually necessary. A legal paternity test requires a chain-of-custody process whereby a third-party Collector verifies participating individuals’ identity, witnesses DNA collection and then sends the samples to directly to the testing laboratory. This process ensures that no party has tampered with samples and prevents any other fraudulent activities. Once results are received at the lab, the DNA from the father, child and sometimes mother is compared and results are released to the participants.
The DDC Legal Paternity Test
HomeDNA Paternity’s parent company, DDC, offers a legal paternity test that is affordable and convenient. Here’s what you can expect if you start the legal paternity test process with us.
- First, you need to call DDC. During this phone call, a DNA sample-collection appointment is set up at a location near you
- We send all testing supplies directly to your collector prior to the collection appointment. If you’ve already purchased an at-home kit from the store, we’ll credit your account
- Next, you need to attend your collection appointment with a government-issued photo ID (for adults) and a photo (for children)
- Your collector verifies the identity of each participant, helps you fill out the order form and sample envelopes, witnesses DNA collection and then sends your samples to our lab
- Results are ready online two (2) business days after the samples arrive at our laboratory.
There is only one real difference between at-home tests and legal paternity tests. That difference is in the method in collecting the DNA samples. As already mentioned, a legal paternity test needs a chain-of-custody to withstand in court, whereas a home test (not for legal purposes) can be collected (unsupervised) in the privacy of your home.
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