When you’re considering a paternity test, you can choose either a home test or a legal paternity one with court-admissible results. When performed through an accredited lab like DNA Diagnostics Center, results for both types of test are accurate, but there are distinct differences in how the reports can be used.
First, we’ll explain the main differences between a home and court-admissible paternity test. Then if you can’t decide which one might be right for you, we’ve outlined some reasons why establishing paternity the legal way might be the better choice.
Main Differences between Home and Legal Paternity Testing
- How the test is ordered
A home paternity test can be purchased at a retail store or ordered online. A legal paternity test must be ordered directly through an accredited laboratory either by phone or by ordering online.
- How DNA is collected
For a home test, participants collect their own DNA and send it in to the lab. For a court-admissible paternity test, DNA collection must be supervised by a witness at an approved facility and sent in to the lab following strict chain-of-custody protocol.
- How the reports can be used
Because DNA collection for a home test is not supervised and chain-of-custody isn’t established for samples, the results report cannot be used as evidence in court or for any legal matter. Results for a home test are for personal knowledge only, and legal paternity is not established with home testing.
When It’s Important to Establish Legal Paternity
Protecting a Father’s Rights
When a baby is born to a married couple, the man is automatically considered the legal father of the child. If you are an unwed father, the only way to have any kind of standing regarding decisions about the child is to establish paternity legally. Once legal paternity-test results prove you are the biological father, you have a voice. Without that report, you have no voice. You can even establish paternity if your child lives in another state.
Custody and Visitation Rights
If you plan on being actively involved in your child’s life, establishing paternity the legal way must happen first before you can petition for custody or visitation rights. The court will not recognize a claim if a home paternity test was performed to establish parenthood.
Financial Welfare of the Child
Once paternity is established legally, the child is eligible for many financial benefits. Some may be court ordered—like child support—while others are rights a child is entitled to by virtue of having a legally-recognized father. These include:
- inheritance rights
- pension and retirement
- Social Security
- life insurance
Medical Insurance and Records
A child can be added to their legal father’s medical-insurance policy, which is a tremendous benefit for the child. In his turn, the father has a right to access a minor child’s medical information and help the mother make informed health-related decisions on their child’s behalf.
Keeping Informed as the Child Grows
It’s hard to believe, but that little baby in your arms will grow up very fast and as a legally-established father you’ll want to be eligible to receive notifications—both good and bad—and be kept informed during the growing-up years. As long as the child is a minor, a legal father can access school and religious records. He can also be notified of important events such as juvenile court or criminal proceedings and custody hearings.
The Bottom Line
A home paternity test is ideal when you want to quickly find out if you’re the father for your own personal peace of mind. But if you want to assume legal responsibilities with a say in decision-making, then it’s essential to establish paternity through the chain-of-custody process. The professionals at DNA Diagnostics Center perform both types of tests—quickly and accurately. We understand how important this test is, and you can trust us with your results.