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HOMEProducts & ServicesPaternity TestingPaternity Testing Introduction
 

Introduction to Paternity Testing

In the United States, establishing paternity has become a major industry. Government efforts to recover child support funds bring in over five billion dollars a year at a cost of one-and-a-half billion dollars. State and local child support agencies, working under Title IVD of the federal Social Security Act, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, administer these programs for the benefit of unsupported children. This statute requires that when a woman obtains public assistance for her children, she MUST name the possible fathers. These programs generate the bulk of more than 220,000 paternity tests performed annually. In a country where 30% of births are to single mothers, and 15% of fathers of record are not the biological father, the large number of tests is not surprising.

Most DNA paternity testing is done for financial reasons, i.e., to establish legal responsibility and provide for child support. Even more important are the emotional and social issues. When testing can demonstrate conclusively to a man that he is the father of a child, then he is more likely to provide not only financial support, but emotional support as well. He may bond with the child and take an active part in its life. The importance of establishing paternity early is nowhere more clearly shown than in the testing of adult children, some of whom are in middle age. "Who is my father?" is a question that may have haunted them their entire lives.

It wasn't very long ago that obtaining a paternity test was an uncertain, expensive and inconvenient process. It was hard to find a place to have the blood drawn to initiate the testing and redraws were common as the blood had to reach the laboratory in one or two days. A doctor's or a lawyer's involvement might have been required, and, even after the effort and expense, the results often came back with a considerable degree of uncertainty. Also, there were no inspection and certification programs available to parentage testing laboratories which provide an assurance of quality.

DNA testing has made the process convenient and the results conclusive. In all but the rarest of instances, the DNA test results provide a level of certainty so high that paternity will, for all practical purposes, be proven or disproved.

One of the greatest benefits DNA has brought to parentage testing is the ability to solve many more types of cases. In the usual case, tests include all three parties, i.e., the mother, child and alleged father. With DNA, it is not necessary to have the mother's sample in order to provide a conclusive test result. It is possible to distinguish between two brothers provided they are not identical twins. In many cases, it is possible to perform the DNA tests when the alleged father is deceased or otherwise unavailable. It also is possible, using DNA, to perform testing before or at the time of birth. Tests also can be performed on some very unusual samples such as envelope flaps, cigarette butts, and very old blood stains.

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