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Is a Home Paternity Test Legally Admissible in Court?

by | Apr 2, 2019 | child custody and support, divorce, News and Events

When the issue of paternity comes up in a family law situation, it’s important to understand the different types of paternity tests available and which ones are, and are not, legally admissible in a Long Island courtroom. Home paternity tests, in particular, are becoming more affordable, leaving many people wondering if they can use a home paternity test in a family law case. Here’s what you need to know about the admissibility of home paternity tests and other types of paternity tests that may be available to you.

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What Is a Home Paternity Test?

A home paternity test typically comes in the form of a “kit,” with test tubes, sterile swabs, gloves, and instructions. The child and the potential father each swab the inside of their cheek and send the swabs to an independent lab for analysis. The lab then sends back a report stating the likelihood that the potential father is or is not the biological father of the child.

Home paternity tests are convenient and are becoming more affordable as new manufacturers join the market. When paternity is a concern, home tests can help families get a quick answer to a very important question.

Are Home Paternity Tests Legally Admissible in Court?

Home paternity tests are accurate, but they aren’t admissible in court. This is because there are no procedures or controls in place to ensure that the DNA inside of the test tube belongs to the person labeled on the outside of the tube. Home paternity tests can be tampered with to produce the desired results, and there’s no way for a court to be absolutely positive this hasn’t happened.

Other Types of Paternity Tests

In cases where paternity must be legally established, such as in child custody, visitation, and child support cases, home test results cannot be used. Instead, a medical paternity test must be obtained, which can be done in a few different ways:

Prenatal Testing via Amniocentesis

If you are involved in a family legal situation where it’s necessary to prove paternity before the child is born, this can be accomplished via amniocentesis. Amniocentesis is a procedure by which a thin needle is inserted into the mother’s abdomen and a small amount of amniotic fluid is removed for lab testing.

Blood Testing

After the child is born, paternity can be established via a simple blood test. This must be performed in a hospital or other lab setting by a qualified medical professional.

Cheek Swabs

Cheek swabs can also be done after the child is born in a hospital or lab setting.

Regardless of the method, paternity testing only becomes legally admissible in court when the chain of custody can be verified. Procedures that exist to ensure that only qualified personnel administer the test and handle the samples must be followed. In cases where medical paternity testing was done but the lab made a mistake or can’t verify the chain of custody for some reason, the test would also be rendered inadmissible.

Check out our Divorce Guide for Dads for more information about divorce issues specifically related to fathers.

Establish Paternity with the Help of a Long Island Divorce Lawyer or Family Law Attorney

Are you involved in a family legal situation where paternity is a concern? Get help arranging legally admissible paternity testing. Whether you’re a mother petitioning for child support from the child’s alleged father or a father establishing rights to his child, we can help. Contact our divorce and family law firm for a free consultation to discuss the specifics of your case at 631-923-1910 today.



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