Should I get a paternity test?

Casey Randall AlphaBiolabs

By Casey Randall, Head of Genetics at AlphaBiolabs

Last reviewed: 17/02/2023

In this article, we discuss what paternity testing is, whether you should get a paternity test, and the reasons why you might want a paternity test.
Table of contents
  • What is a paternity test?
  • Should I get a paternity test?
  • What are the reasons for getting a paternity test?
  • Where can I get a paternity test?

What is a paternity test?

A paternity test is a specific type of DNA test that is used to determine the biological relationship between a child and their alleged father.

For a traditional paternity test, cheek (buccal) swabs are used to collect DNA samples from the child and the alleged father taking part in the test.

This simple, pain-free method of sample collection means that paternity testing can be performed on a person of any age, including new-born babies

The DNA samples are then analysed at the laboratory by expert geneticists, to identify matching DNA markers. If the alleged father and child share enough DNA markers in common, this verifies that the man is the biological father of the child.

If the tested man is not the biological father, he will not share enough DNA markers with the child to verify a paternal relationship.

A paternity test can also be carried out when the baby is still in utero (in the womb). This type of test is known as a prenatal paternity test or non-invasive prenatal paternity (NIPP) test and works slightly differently to a standard paternity test performed after birth.

A NIPP test is non-invasive and 100% risk free for mum and baby, requiring only a blood sample and two cheek swabs from the mother, and two cheek swabs from the alleged father.

The test works by analysing the baby’s DNA, which can usually be found in the mother’s bloodstream from as early as 7 weeks into pregnancy, together with the mother and alleged father’s DNA.

By doing this, expert geneticists can identify paternal DNA, which can then be compared to the tested man to determine whether he is the biological father of the baby.

Should I get a paternity test?

There are many situations where a paternity test might be wanted or needed. However, the decision to order a test is often not an easy one to make.

Whether you are a mother who is unsure about the identity of your child’s father, a man with doubts over whether you are the father of a child, or you require a paternity test for another reason, the question of whether you should get a paternity test is likely going to lead to difficult or awkward conversations.

Before ordering a paternity test, it is important to consider your personal circumstances.

It can often be helpful to weigh up the pros and cons of doing the test, including how you will feel if you do not get the result you want, and the impact that the result of the test could have on family relationships.

If you do decide you want or need to go ahead with a paternity test, it is important to discuss the decision with everyone involved.

This is crucial, as you must have the appropriate consent from or on behalf of each person submitting their DNA samples for testing.

Anyone aged 16 or over can provide their own consent for their DNA to be tested. However, an adult with parental responsibility can also consent on behalf of a child aged 16-17, if necessary.

For children under 16 years of age, an adult with parental responsibility must provide consent on their behalf.

In the UK, the mother of the child has parental responsibility automatically. The father has parental responsibility and can provide consent if he is either:

  • Married to the child’s mother
  • Listed on the birth certificate (after a certain date, depending on which part of the UK the child was born in)

Other factors to consider include your relationship to the child in question, and how their parent/guardian will react to the suggestion of a paternity test.

For example, if you are the alleged father who wants to start a conversation about paternity testing with the child’s mother, it is important to approach the conversation rationally and without accusation. Explain your reasons for wanting the test calmly and remember to stay respectful.

If you are a mother who has doubts over the paternity of your child, starting the conversation around paternity testing with the alleged father can be very difficult.

It is important to consider the impact on the family, including your child, if you do not get the result you want. If you do decide to do a paternity test, you should explain that you want the test for the wellbeing of your child and that you have their best interests at heart. You may also want to discuss what happens next, depending on the results.

While these conversations are likely to be upsetting, it is important to have them so you can make decisions about your family’s future.

In some cases, it can also be a good idea to seek counselling to help all parties deal with the aftermath of the results.

What are the reasons for getting a paternity test?

There are many reasons why you might want to get a paternity test, including:

A sense of identity

If you have questions about your heritage or family tree, understanding your biological relationships can help you to establish a sense of identity.

If you have lived for many years without knowing who your father is, a paternity test can be an ideal solution, providing answers to long-standing questions.

You want to learn more about your family’s medical history

If you are thinking about starting a family, have questions about your family’s medical history, or are just curious about your own health, understanding your family tree – including who your biological father is – can provide valuable information about any hereditary illnesses.

It can also enable you to seek testing, diagnosis, and treatment, if needed.

You have doubts about the paternity of your unborn child

Knowing who a child’s father is before the baby is born can help ensure the father and child bond gets off to the best possible start.

It can also help you make important decisions about your child’s care before he or she arrives. In these circumstances, a non-invasive prenatal paternity (NIPP) test is a 100% safe, and risk-free way of establishing paternity while the mother is still pregnant.

Inheritance, wills, and probate

The question of a person’s paternity can become even more significant when a family member passes away, and important decisions need to be made regarding their estate.

In circumstances where a child wishes to make a claim to their deceased father’s estate – and paternity is in dispute – a paternity test can help verify a biological relationship between father and child.

Where a sample donor is deceased, and it is not possible to obtain a cheek swab sample for DNA testing, a DNA viability test using an alternative sample is usually required to complete the paternity test.

Learn more about DNA viability testing for legal matters

Where a child was conceived via a sperm donor or other fertility treatments

Paternity testing can also be used to provide peace of mind as to the biological identity of a child’s father after fertility treatments like in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and sperm donation.

Because these treatments take place in a clinic or hospital, there is a small risk of mistakes happening, and the wrong sperm sample being used during the procedure.

For this reason, if you are an individual or couple that has conceived using fertility treatments, you might want a paternity test while the mother is still pregnant (prenatal paternity test) or after the baby has been born (paternity test), for added reassurance that the right man is the biological father.

Where can I get a paternity test?

Whether you simply want to confirm who a child’s biological father is for your own peace of mind, or have another personal reason for ordering a test, an AlphaBiolabs Paternity Test can help you find the answers you need.

From just £99 with next working day results – or same working day results for an extra £70 – this extremely easy test simply requires cheek (buccal) swabs to be rubbed quickly and painlessly on the inside of the mouth to collect cheek cell DNA from each test participant (alleged father and child).

This simple, pain-free method of sample collection means that the test can be performed on a person of any age, from new-born babies to older children and adults.

It is easy to order your peace of mind paternity test online now. If you require assistance, call our friendly and discreet Customer Services team on 0333 600 1300 or email info@alphabiolabs.com.

Please be aware, the results of peace of mind DNA tests cannot be used for legal or official matters. If you require a DNA test for official matters, you will need a legal DNA test.

Home Paternity Testing Kits

Order your Paternity Test online now for just £99.

Casey Randall AlphaBiolabs

Casey Randall

Head of Genetics at AlphaBiolabs

Casey joined the AlphaBiolabs team in 2012 and heads up both the DNA and Health testing teams.

An expert in DNA analysis and a member of the International Society for Forensic Genetics (ISFG), Casey holds an MSc with Distinction in DNA Profiling and a First-Class BSc with Honours in Forensic Science.

Casey is responsible for maintaining the highest quality testing standards, as well as looking for ways to further enhance the service that AlphaBiolabs provides and exploring new and innovative techniques in DNA analysis.

Related articles…

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How to ask your partner for a paternity test

How to ask your partner for a paternity test, and some of the things you need to consider before you order a test.

Paternity testing while pregnant

Learn about our prenatal paternity testing process here.