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How do DNA tests determine paternity?

When a child is born to unmarried parents in Michigan who are no longer in a relationship with one another, if the father wishes to pursue custody or visitation rights or if the mother wishes to pursue child support from the father, paternity needs to be established. Sometimes, parents will agree the man is the child's biological father and will voluntarily agree so in writing by executing a specific form, which will subsequently become legally binding.

However, sometimes either the mother or the alleged father is not certain if the man is the child's biological parent. When this happens, paternity can be established through a DNA test. A child has half of his or her DNA from the biological mother and half of his or her DNA from the biological father. Each person's DNA is different, except in cases of identical twins. If the DNA patterns between the child, the child's mother and the alleged father match, it is 99.9% likely that the man is the child's biological father.

To perform a DNA test, either a blood draw will be taken or a cheek swab will be taken from the child, the child's mother and the child's alleged father for testing. The accuracy of a cheek swab is generally the same as a blood draw.

DNA testing is so accurate that it can completely confirm if an alleged father is not the child's biological parent, and it can almost positively provide certainty that an alleged father is the child's biological parent. It is important to remember that when a child's parents are unmarried, paternity must be established before child support can be collected or before a father can pursue custody or visitation rights with the child.

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