When settling child custody and support matters, questions regarding paternity may arise. Paternity tests are the most definitive way to settle this issue, and may be court ordered during a custody or support dispute. When it comes to testing, parents have a few different options, and those options will depend on whether the mother is still pregnant, or if the child has already been born.
Paternity Tests during Pregnancy
If the mother is pregnant during the divorce proceedings, child custody and support matters may need to be settled before the child is born, and this may involve paternity testing.
There are three main types of tests that can be performed during pregnancy:
- Amniocentesis (also referred to as amniotic fluid test or AFT): Performed during the second trimester between the 14th and 20th week of pregnancy. An ultrasound is used to guide a thin needle into the uterus to draw out amniotic fluid. The fluid is then tested to determine paternity.
- NIPP (Non-Invasive Prenatal Paternity): Performed after the 8th week of pregnancy. This is a non-invasive test that analyzes the baby’s DNA that is naturally found in the mother’s bloodstream. Blood will need to be collected from the mother and alleged father. This test is 99.9% accurate.
- CVS (Chorionic Villus Sampling): With the help of an ultrasound, a thin needle or tube is inserted into the cervix to extract chorionic villi. These are tiny, finger-like pieces of tissue that have the same genetic makeup as the fertilized egg. This test can be performed as early as the 10th week of pregnancy.
Again, these tests can only be performed during pregnancy, and most of these tests will require a doctor’s consent.
Blood and DNA Testing
For children that have already been born, there are two primary testing options: DNA testing or blood testing. Before the advent of DNA testing methods, blood types were the most common factor when determining paternity.
ABO blood-typing may be used to exclude men from being a child’s father. Let’s say, for example, that a man has type AB blood. There is no possible way he could father a child with type O blood simply because he would only pass on either type A or type B to his offspring.
While this test can be useful in excluding men, it is not useful in confirming whether a man is a child’s father.
Although blood tests have advanced over the years, they are still only 80% effective in excluding men as a father.
Today, DNA is the standard for paternity testing. Genetic testing has an accuracy rate of 99.9%, which makes them the ideal choice for settling paternity issues.
There are two primary types of DNA testing that are used to determine paternity.
- PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction): A fairly new test with quick results. A swab is used to collect a sample of DNA from inside a person’s cheek. This is the most common DNA test used to determine paternity.
- RFLP (Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism): A traditional DNA test that requires a large DNA sample, typically from a blood draw.
DNA paternity tests are more accurate and results can be determined in as little as three days.
The Micklin Law Group, LLC is a New Jersey law firm focusing exclusively on family law for men and fathers. Attorney Brad Micklin was recently named to The National Advocates list of Top 100 attorneys from each state. To set up a consultation, call 973-562-0100.