How DNA paternity testing works

As many Florida residents may know, DNA testing may be used to establish the identity of a child's biological father. This method is also used to present legal evidence in situations such as child support, adoption, immigration and custody. It may also be employed to issues surrounding inheritance, insurance, social security benefits and inherited medical problems.

DNA testing works by matching DNA contributed by both parents to the DNA of the child. The child's DNA is a mix of both parents' genetic material. DNA that does not match that of the mother needs to match that of the father for paternity to be established. If it does not match, there is a nearly 100 percent certainty that the individual is not the child's father. Conversely, if the father's DNA matches, there is a probability of 99 percent that he is the child's father.

The DNA testing procedure generally takes three to four days. However, if the mother's DNA is not provided, testing may take longer. The results are strictly confidential.

The mode of obtaining a DNA sample varies. Buccal sampling is commonly used, as it is easily obtained and not invasive. This method is often used on newborns, and blood from the umbilical cord may be used at birth. Samples from amniotic fluid may be taken, but this might be dangerous to the child. Hair samples may be used but require an intact follicle.

Establishing a father's legal rights and custody may depend on establishing paternity. An attorney involved in a paternity case may petition the court to allow the father visitation time with his child. Alternately, establishing paternity might provide a basis for child support imposed by the court.


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