How to Get a Paternity Test

Aug 5, 2018 | Blog, DNA test, Paternity, Paternity Test

How to get a paternity test

Don’t know if a child is yours? DNA is the answer. In most cases, an analysis is performed using cheek-swab DNA samples from the possible father, child, and mother (her participation is optional, but recommended). If you’re interested in how to get a paternity test, here are several options available to you, along with the advantages and disadvantages of each.

How to Get a Paternity Test

There are three basic methods to get a paternity test: using an at-home kit (purchased at a retail store or online), ordering a legal paternity test directly from an accredited laboratory, or getting a legal test performed via court order.

1. Using an At-Home Paternity Test Kit

Buying an at-home kit is the easiest and most cost-effective way to get a paternity test. Some kits can be purchased at drugstores, and most are sold online.

Advantages: The kit and lab fee are relatively inexpensive and you can collect DNA quickly, painlessly, and easily, in the comfort of your own home. Even newborns can have their cheeks swabbed for testing.

Disadvantages: Test results are not court-admissible, since the identities of the participants are not verified by a third party.

2. Ordering a Legal Test from a Laboratory

If you need results for any legal reason, you have a different option besides hiring a lawyer or going through the court system: just talk to an accredited lab directly. A quality lab can make arrangements for a legal test with court-admissible results for cases involving:

  • Inheritance rights
  • Adoption
  • Benefits
  • Immigration
  • Child support
  • Child custody

Advantages: Results are accepted as legal proof of relationship; it can be a more cost-effective way to get court-admissible results since you’re dealing with the lab directly; the process is fast; dealing directly with the lab is secure.

Disadvantages: There are additional fees for required witnessed DNA-collection services.

Learn More about a Legal Paternity Test >

3. Going through the Courts for Legal Testing

If you prefer, a lawyer can take care of arranging the test for you by setting up your case first and having the court order one, if the court deems it necessary.

Advantages: In most cases the court orders it from the lab directly and makes arrangements for you; you may or may not have to pay for testing, depending on the court’s judgment.

Example: Let’s say you are the mother in a case. If there is a denial of paternity by the alleged father and the results come back positive, the court can order the father to pay the costs of the DNA tests.

Disadvantages: You are at the mercy of the court as to when and how you’ll see results of testing; if you have questions about results, you cannot directly contact the lab used by the court for testing—you must address all question to the court; you will need to pay for your attorney.

Final Thoughts

The most important takeaway is this: You cannot use at-home test results for a court case, so be sure to select your test carefully. Still not sure how to get a paternity test or which one might be the best choice for you? Beware of new pop-up paternity services; instead, be sure to call an accredited lab like DDC for guidance.

Call us at 800-929-0847: We’re here to help.


  1. Joshua

    I need a paternity test for child support. I have been paying child support for years but not sure if he is my kid

    • DDC

      Hi, Joshua. You need to contact a family-law attorney in your area. You can try petitioning the court for a paternity test, but even if the report says you’re not the biological father, keep in mind they will always act in the best interest of the child. Since you’ve already acknowledged legal parenthood by paying child support, the court may leave it at that.

  2. Perys

    Hello, I need to know how much, and how long, to get a court orderd Paternity test and my sons legal last name changed correctly to mine. Thank You

    • DDC

      Hi, Perys. Legal tests from DDC start at $300 and results are court-admissible. Please contact us directly for how you need to proceed: 800-681-7162 (M-F, 8 am to 8 pm Eastern).

  3. Michael

    Can a paternity be taken while the mother is still pregnant?

  4. Rick

    I wanted to know if it was possible to get a DNA test done with the kid and father being in different countries. Like would I be able to take my swab samples, and then send it out to the kid for it to take samples, and then, send it to the mom, and the she sends it to the lab? Or is that not possible?

    • DDC

      Hi, Rick. It’s much simpler for us to do all that mailing for you. When you order a test, we can send DNA-collection materials wherever they need to go. Each set of materials has the same bar code and other identifiers so they can be reunited at the lab for testing. Call for a free confidential consultation and we’ll help you figure out exactly what’s needed and get your started: 800-681-7162 (M-F, 8 am to 8 pm Eastern).

  5. Nick

    My ex had a child and is not letting me see her and being very difficult.. if i get a lawyer to get a test will she have to get a lawyer as well?

    • DDC

      Hi, Nick. Whether or not she chooses to get a lawyer is entirely up to her.


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