Prenatal Paternity Testing: Who's Your Daddy?

If you are a woman who has had more than one sexual partner, it is understandable that at the time of your pregnancy, you would want to know who the father of your child is.  It is beneficial to know who the father is for a variety of reasons.  The reasons may include, child support—both emotionally and financially, peace of mind of knowing for sure, and knowing your child's complete medical history.  Knowing who the baby's parents are is important because your child has a right to have access to legal and social benefits, including social security, veteran's benefits, and inheritance.  In order to manage your child's health, a prenatal paternity test will provide an accurate medical history of the child, and gives the health care provider additional information to manage and diagnose your child's health.  A prenatal paternity test is completed during your pregnancy.  By knowing who the father is, it may also strengthen the bond between father and child. 

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If there is any doubt as to the father of your baby is, a prenatal paternity test can and should be done as early as possible.  Such testing can be completed, during your pregnancy.  To legally establish who the father is, most states require the parents, if they are not married at the time of the birth to complete an Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP) form.  If the couple is unmarried, and the mother has not been married in the last 300 days, then no father is listed on the child's birth certificate until the AOP is completed.  This form is then sent to be recorded with the Bureaus of Vital Statistics.  The father then becomes the legal father of the baby.*  A footnote to this process is that couples have just a limited time period in which to request a DNA test be completed, and amend the AOP.  If this is not done, the father who is listed on the AOP can be held legally responsible for the child even if the child is not his.  The time in which to have the DNA testing completed may vary for each state. 

To further complicate the issues should the situation dictate, if the mother is married to someone other than the baby's father or has not been divorced for over 300 days, it is presumed her husband is the child's father.  The biological father can only be named as the father if an AOP form is completed and the mother's husband also signs a denial of paternity.  If the husband should not sign the denial of paternity, it would then require the biological father to take action in court to make further determination.  As to your baby's status, if no father is listed as the legal father, then your baby's rights are not completely protected.  For this reason alone, it is of vital importance to name the father of your baby so that your baby is eligible for child support, and other benefits such as veteran's benefits, social security, and health care.  If you do not want to wait until the birth of your child to have DNA tested, you can elect to have a prenatal DNA test completed during your pregnancy.  An amniocentesis or a villus sampling (CVS) can determine the ancestry of your child.

The types of prenatal paternity test that is available is Postnatal DNA testing.  This testing requires the collection of blood and testing; buccal swab (cheek swab) collection and testing; umbilical cord collection and testing; and other sample collection which may include semen, tissue, hair, etc.  Another type of paternity testing is prenatal DNA testing, which is either by an amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling (CVS).  Each of these tests are performed by an obstetrician, but you can also use a home paternity test.

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