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DNA testing and paternity

Until paternity tests became a reality, it was sometimes difficult to prove or disprove that a man was a child's biological father. Now, doctors can compare a child's DNA with that of an alleged father to see if certain markers indicate a biological relationship. Proving paternity has become an integral part of establishing fathers' rights for many Georgia men.

DNA testing is relatively simple despite it being a large step forward in the field of testing for paternity. Scientists will obtain a sample of a child's DNA and compare it directly with that of someone claiming paternity as well as with the mother. Unlike much of the human body, DNA is present and unchanging during the course of someone's life. DNA is found all throughout the body, including in bones, muscles, teeth and skin. It is also in the lining of one's cheek, which can be picked up by a cotton swab. Doctors usually compare a child's DNA with that of their mother first and then examine the DNA of the potential father.

If certain characteristics are found during the testing, specialists will work out the probability of a man being the biological father. When certain genetic characteristics are absent, it is decided that the tested man cannot be the father. A DNA test that includes the mother's DNA generally takes around 3 to 4 business days. Tests without a sample from the mother can take more time.

Fathers in Georgia are entitled to the same rights as mothers, but unless a man married the mother of his child he will have to prove paternity before claiming parental rights. An attorney could assist the father with legitimizing his claim and then obtaining the right to visitation as well as to be involved in decisions about the child's welfare and education.

Source: Genetic Profiles, "How does DNA paternity testing work?", November 12, 2014

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