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 has died), the testing can be done just on 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 set up your paternity testing appointments.

If you have safety concerns, you don't have to go together for testing. DOR can set up your appointments on different days. The child's appointment is scheduled with the mother.

Results are sent to both of you by mail.

Who pays for the paternity tests?

If the test shows that the man is the child’s biological father, he may be required to pay for the test. If the test shows that he isn't the father and DOR is providing services to the family, then DOR pays the cost.

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