Learn about paternity testing

Learn about how paternity testing can help determine a child's biological father.

How paternity tests are done

Paternity tests help determine whether a man is the biological father of a child.

The mother, the child, and the man who may be the father are all tested.

The most common way to do the test is to use a “buccal swab.” This means that a cotton swab is rubbed on the cheeks inside the mouth to collect a tissue sample.

The tissue samples from the cotton swab are sent to a lab that specializes in genetic marker testing. The lab compares the tissue samples from the mother, the child, and the man to see what special characteristics – known as “genetic markers” – the child shares with the mother and the man who may be the father.

These tests are very accurate in showing whether or not the man is the biological father of a child.

In some circumstances (such as where the mother is unavailable for testing), the testing can be done just with the child and the man who may be the father.

If DOR is helping to establish paternity for your child or helping to get paternity tests, we schedule your paternity test appointments.

If you have safety concerns, you don't have to go together for testing. DOR can schedule your appointments on different days.

Results are sent to both parties by mail.

Who pays for the paternity tests?

Most often DOR pays for the cost of testing.

If I was married at the time my child was born, is my spouse the legal parent?

If you were legally married when your child was conceived, during your pregnancy, or at the time of your child’s birth, your spouse is automatically considered to be your child’s other legal parent. If you believe someone other than your spouse is your child’s other parent, DOR can help you by asking the court to determine the parentage of your child and have your child’s birth certificate changed.

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