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DIY Paternity Tests

Early in the 20th century, scientists developed a blood-typing method to help establish biological paternity, but the results were limited. The development of genetic testing made paternity testing more accurate, but before 1980, DNA analysis was still only 80 percent accurate. Current DNA tests have an almost perfect ability to determine a familial link, and the technology has advanced to the point where you can buy a paternity test kit at your local drugstore for $30 — and these do-it-yourself (DIY) kits are flying off the shelves.

Buyers include men who wonder if they really are biological fathers, women who want financial support from the father of a child and children who want to find their biological roots. There may be several motivations for wanting to verify paternity:

  • Claim legal parental rights
  • Establish a legal basis for required child support
  • Challenge a legal requirement for child support

Before you rush out to buy a paternity kit, think about the potential consequences for everyone involved, especially the children. Michael Watson, from the American College of Medical Genetics, estimates that five to 10 percent of the tests would show that a man is not the biological father. For some men, this result could be grounds for initiating a divorce and breaking ties with their non-biological children.

Drugstore paternity tests may be cheap, but if you want the results to be legally admissible, the results must come from an accredited laboratory that can demonstrate a chain of custody that confirms the validity of the evidence. If you have questions about getting a paternity test or acting on the results of such a test, make an appointment with a qualified family law attorney to find out how to best protect your parental rights.

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Robert Reid McInvale
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Robert Reid McInvale is an experienced family law attorney with a comprehensive practice in Houston. He provides dedicated and strong advocacy for his clients, helping them with all the issues surrounding their divorce, separation, child custody, and other marriage and family matters. Attorney McInvale—Reid to clients and friends—seemed destined for a law career. Born while his father was attending Emory University Law School, Reid grew up in Manchester, GA. His father was the city attorney for many years, as well as head of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce. It is in the family blood to become lawyers and help people get justice. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall is part of the McInvale family tree.

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