Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Review of Paternity Test Costs

At one time, not very long ago, paternity test costs were something that the average person would simply not be able to reasonably afford. Thanks to rapid advances in both the worlds of science and genetic testing, it's possible to determine paternity with nearly 100% accuracy for as little as a few hundred dollars, or less, and in as soon as one week's time.

In-Home Paternity Tests

Just a few years ago, in-home paternity tests were being sold for upwards of $500, but now, consumers have the luxury of having a DNA test conducted for less than one hundred dollars from some companies. There are several reputable companies working in conjunction with accredited laboratories who offer completely free paternity test kits to interested individuals. While the materials used to collect samples for testing are free, the actual DNA testing in the laboratory is not.

For a basic in-home paternity test done on three people, the child, mother, and alleged father, expect a cost of anywhere from $100 to $200 for regular service. Prices will double, or triple in some cases for expedited service which can be done in one business day.

Viability Paternity Testing

In the event an alleged father is unavailable for testing, missing, or even deceased, viability paternity testing is the process used to test DNA samples in which the typical means of collection aren't possible. For example, preserved samples of hair and blood or other tissue may be used to extract enough DNA markers to establish paternity, or, if none of these biological samples are available, testing his parents would be the next option.

For obvious reasons, this type of paternity testing is considerably more expensive than others. On average, a grandparentage test with the mother's sample is between $600 and $800, and when the mother is not known, the price will usually then increase by a few hundred dollars.

Legally Binding Paternity Tests

On average, legally binding paternity tests are more expensive than those done purely for curiosity's sake or personal knowledge. For a paternity test to be legally admissible in a court of law, a process known as the Chain of Custody must be followed to the letter. The Chain of Custody assures the court that the correct procedures were adhered to starting with the collection process and continuing on with the actual testing of the DNA.

Prenatal Paternity Tests

Since DNA is within our cells from conception, it isn't necessary to wait until after a baby is born to establish paternity as the results will be exactly the same in terms of probability and accuracy. If the pregnancy is a difficult one or the mother is having complications, it's always advisable to wait until after birth and proceed with a postnatal paternity test as the methods used are invasive procedures that do pose some risk to both the fetus and the mother.

Amniocentesis testing involves extracting a small amount of amniotic fluid that surrounds the fetus with a long needle to test the DNA in the cells within the fluid. This procedure is done between the 14th and 24th weeks of pregnancy. Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) may be done even earlier on, during the 10th through 13th weeks, and also uses either a needle inserted into the abdomen to extract cells from the developing placenta, or the procedure can also be done vaginally.

The costs for a prenatal paternity test usually average around $500, with the additional doctor's fees in the $500 to $1,500 range, making this one of the most expensive types of paternity tests available today.
Photo:Francesco Marino

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