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What is the Process for a Legal Paternity Test?

Apr 16, 2021 | Paternity

What is the Process for a Legal Paternity Test?

When a married woman gives birth, her husband is typically assumed to be the child’s father and is given that status on the birth certificate. But if a woman is unmarried, a man must formally be named the father to establish legal paternity. The man must usually sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP) form at the hospital.

National studies indicate paternity is established at the hospital in 69–90% of non-marital births, meaning the majority of women name the father of their baby on the birth certificate. Establishing paternity after the infant leaves the hospital is much more likely to result in the state requesting a legal DNA test for child support, custody, immigration, adoption, tax forms, inheritance rights, and other reasons.

Paternity questions often arise later, such as if the couple breaks up or there are allegations of infidelity. Frequently, a man’s decision to acknowledge paternity and invest in his child depends a great deal on the future of his relationship with the child’s mother. But scenarios occur in which the father wants to be part of the child’s life and the mother actively tries to thwart his involvement. The U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed the constitutional protection of a father’s legal rights to a child if he has established a substantial relationship with them. Even though women order legal paternity tests more often, men also do so to protect their rights.

DNA Testing For Legal Purposes

Courts only accept legal paternity test results. A legal paternity test requires a chain-of-custody process with witnessed DNA collection, ensuring the correct DNA has been submitted for testing. Home paternity tests are inadmissible because the court has no way to verify if the DNA belongs to the people whose names are listed on the test. Today, scientific advances in DNA testing have enabled parents to establish paternity before the baby is even born. As with postnatal testing, non-invasive prenatal paternity testing can be performed with a chain-of-custody process.

How Do I Go About Getting a Paternity Test Done?

If you need to establish legal paternity and don’t know how to get a legal paternity test done, the first step is to select a highly-rated accredited lab with years of experience. DDC has vast expertise administering legal tests, with two separate teams performing each test as an extra layer of assurance for accuracy. Additionally, the DDC team can arrange DNA-collection appointments for test participants in different states and even in different countries. Once DNA collection is complete, the samples are shipped back to DDC and reunited for testing. Here is the step-by-step process for ordering a legal DNA test to establish paternity.

  1. Call the lab directly to request a legal test
  2. The lab makes an appointment (or appointments) for you at an approved DNA-collection facility near you
  3. A DNA test kit is sent directly to the facility
  4. Participants show up at the designated times (they don’t have to be there at the same appointment)
  5. The DNA collector checks IDs, takes photos, and witnesses (or performs) DNA collection
  6. The DNA collector fills out necessary paperwork and mails samples to the lab
  7. When results are ready, the report is posted to a secure online account and/or can be delivered via mail*

*For security reasons, reports are never delivered via email.

DDC performs thousands of accredited legal paternity tests a year accepted by courts worldwide. We offer free consultations with dedicated experts and our process is fast, secure, and highly accurate.


Call us for a FREE confidential consultation at 800-929-0847: We’re here to help.

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