Maury Says: 8 Reasons to Get a Paternity Test


There are ample reasons you or your child might want a paternity test. Despite the cultural connotation of these tests, they do not all involve the kinds of dramatic situations you see on “Maury.”

Because of this cultural baggage, there is a lot of mystery surrounding paternity tests. Where do you get one? When should you get one, and how accurate are they?

These are large questions worth exploring, but today we want to focus on the “why.” Why get a paternity test in the first place? The full list of reasons may surprise you.

This is a guide to the full spectrum of reasons people have for obtaining paternity tests. Keep reading to find out if this relatively straightforward procedure may fit your personal circumstances.

8 Situations Where a Paternity Test Is Appropriate

Let’s demystify paternity tests here. We will start with some of the more obvious and common knowledge reasons for getting a paternity test done. Then we will wade into less familiar waters.

Speaking of unfamiliarity, many people do not know how early it is possible to do a paternity test.

Did you know you can get a paternity test done shortly after  you find out you’re pregnant? It’s true! Visit here for more information about prenatal paternity testing.

For now, onto our “whys.”

1. Custody Disputes

A custody dispute is one of the big reasons people know for ordering paternity tests. It is a natural way of proving that the father has a right to spend time with their child. A child can’t spend time with their father if they do not know who that father is in the first place!

We tend to think of custody battles as parents fighting for time with their children, but that is not always the case. Occasionally, a father will dispute custody. If he is the child’s biological father, custody may be required of him, depending on the specific laws of the state in which he and his child reside.

2. Child Support Claims

Child support claims form another controversial branch of the paternity testing tree. A lack of child support payments is a cornerstone of the “deadbeat dad” stereotype. As recently as 2011, fathers only made 61% of child support payments to the mothers of their children.

Paternity testing holds these fathers accountable for the financial well-being of their children.

The flip side of paternity testing in these cases occurs when the tests come back negative. A New York Times Magazine article> profiled a non-biological father paying child support to his ex-wife after she remarried the biological father of her daughter. These types of mind-boggling cases can be avoided with rigorous paternity testing.

3. Adopting a Child

Paternity testing applies to adoption when a couple is split on whether or not to give their child up for adoption. Depending on the state laws, a father may not have as much of a say in this process as the child’s mother. This is doubly true if a paternity test proves he does not have biological ties to the child.

The silver lining of using paternity testing in adoption cases is that it allows adult adoptees to explore their family history in greater detail. We will explore this “why” in greater detail a little later.

4. Immigration Cases

The United States government accepts DNA testing as proof of a biological relationship on some immigrant visa applications. When one member of a family is already a U.S. citizen, this kind of testing can reunite families. When the DNA testing is a paternity test, it can ensure fathers get to raise their children while living in the same place.

5. Medical History

Not all paternity testing is specific to childhood. Many adults appreciate the results of these tests because they tell them about their medical history.

Anyone who has been to a doctor knows the amount of paperwork you need to fill out at an initial appointment. When you can be accurate about the diseases and conditions your parents suffered, your medical team can provide you better treatment.

6. Rights to an Inheritance

Paternity tests also provide important information after someone has died, especially when it comes to settling an estate. A legal paternity test can establish the heirs who are entitled to the estate, especially if their relationship to the deceased is called into question. For that matter, a maternity test can serve this same function.

7. Death Benefits

It can be confusing to parse the difference between an inheritance and death benefits, but we will clear up the confusion now. An inheritance includes the estate and material goods owned by the deceased person. The death benefits include things like Social Security benefits and the payout from a life insurance policy.

In the case of death benefits, the government or insurance company may require a paternity test to authorize the administration of these benefits.

8. Knowledge for Knowledge’s Sake

There are also more private and personal reasons for ordering a paternity test. Foremost among them is the simple desire for knowledge of your roots. We hinted at this when we talked about adoptees searching for their birth parents.

This does not just apply to adoption cases. People also go searching for their biological parents when they were conceived with the help of a donor.

It is hard to explain the pull of a biological connection, even for people who have grown up in loving non-biological families. All we know is that pull is there. And if a paternity test can satisfy the urge for knowledge and connection, it is worth taking.

Back to Maternity

We hope this guide through the reasons you might want a paternity test has been enlightening. If nothing else, you have a better picture of the full legal and personal uses of these tests.

Once you are satisfied with your knowledge of paternity, you might want to dive back into the world of motherhood. We have got you covered with Every Thing Mom.