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). So if you’re wondering 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 an answer and a very popular method when you’re trying to determine how 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
- 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.
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.
I need a paternity test for child support. I have been paying child support for years but not sure if he is my kid
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.
My question is how do I get a paternity test if I live in Pennsylvania and my supposed son lives in Louisiana? How would that work??
Hi, Daniel. When you contact us at 800-681-7162 and speak with one of our experts, they’ll set up the home test and have DNA-collection materials delivered to all parties. The DNA-collection materials are barcoded, and so the samples are reunited at the lab for testing once they’re sent back. If you need a legal paternity test with court-admissible results, the team member arranges for witnessed DNA collection in both locations. Hope this helps!
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
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).
Can a paternity be taken while the mother is still pregnant?
Hi, Michael. Yes, and you can learn about our test here: https://dnacenter.com/paternity-testing/non-invasive-prenatal-paternity-testing/
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?
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).
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?
Hi, Nick. Whether or not she chooses to get a lawyer is entirely up to her.
Is there a way I could take this test and it would tell me who my biological father is?? My mother has no idea since it’s been 22 years
Hi, Thomas. A paternity test is for confirming a biological relationship based on DNA samples from one man and one child. If your mother has no idea who your biological father might be, this test won’t help you. You may want to start with doing a test from one of the ancestry companies that makes possible biological relationships with others who have tested public. If that yields a possible match for your biological father, then we could confirm that relationship with a paternity test between you and the man, provided he is willing to do the test. Good luck!
I need to get two DNA test bone because my Ex is trying to deny my kids. He also wants me to test another person. We stay in different states, how would this get done and how much would everything cost?
Hi, Rena. Being in different states isn’t a problem. For process and pricing, please contact us directly at 800-681-7162 (M-F, 8 AM to 8 PM Eastern).
I think the kid is mine but my x says it’s her new boyfriend baby she won’t do dna how do I go about this?
Hi, Samuel. Don’t sign any acknowledgment of paternity or birth certificate until you’ve had a legal paternity test performed. If she refuses, you can petition the court. If they believe you have a legitimate case, then she’ll be compelled to allow the test.