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How can a DNA test establish paternity?

As a father, one of things that you might have to do is legally establish paternity. As we have discussed previously, establishing paternity can help give you the basis you need to assert your rights as a father. In Virginia, one way you can establish paternity is through DNA testing.

What is DNA testing?

DNA testing compares a child's DNA to the parents' DNA. A child's DNA is made up of a combination of the mother's DNA and the father's DNA. This means that the baby will have portions of DNA strands that are identical to the father's and some that identical to the mother's.

How is DNA testing done?

In most cases, DNA testing is done by obtaining a buccal swab from the mother, father and child. A cotton swab is rubbed on the inside of the cheek to obtain the sample. The samples are then compared in a lab.

Is DNA testing accurate?

DNA testing is very accurate. If a man isn't the child's father, he can be 100 percent excluded. If he is the child's father, the DNA test can determine paternity with an accuracy rate of 99.9 percent.

Can we do a DNA test before the baby is born?

DNA testing can be done via amniocentesis or chronic villus sampling. Both of these tests carry risks since they involve obtaining tissue from the placenta or amniotic fluid. For that reason, some practitioners are wary of offering these options for paternity testing only.

It is vital that you establish paternity for a child so that your child can enjoy the benefits of having a father. It also gives you the opportunity to assert your rights as the child's father.

Source: Cleveland Clinic, "DNA Paternity Test," accessed April. 24, 2015

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