Facing suspicions about a child’s paternity can be devastating. Many fathers aren’t sure what to do next, especially when they’re told their fears are unfounded. The American Pregnancy Association offers the following advice if you’re thinking about asking for a paternity test from your partner. 

First, you should be aware of why it’s so important to establish paternity as soon as possible. When a child requires healthcare, medical providers are best served by information on both the mother and father. Without this information, certain conditions or illnesses will be overlooked, which leads to a poor prognosis when it comes to serious health issues. It also establishes a legal bond between father and child, which is useful when it comes to providing benefits or inheritances. Lastly, it ensures you can establish a healthy, loving relationship with your child free of doubt and worry.

You should also be aware there are several different types of prenatal testing methods available. A blood test from the pregnant mother and potential father is a simple, accurate way of determining paternity. This test identifies the child’s DNA within the mother’s bloodstream and makes a paternity determination on this information alone. It doesn’t post health risks like other types of prenatal testing and is also estimated to be up to 99% accurate. Invasive methods, such as amniocentesis, are associated with a risk of miscarriage, which means doctors are often unwilling to carry them out. 

If you plan on using the test results in court, make sure you understand the limitations of any tests you schedule. A test must be court-approved to have a bearing on legal proceedings, which is crucial if you plan to file for custody or want to show you’re not liable for child support. While court-approved tests are more expensive, they’re also considered more reliable. If you do end up in court, it’s best to seek the assistance of a qualified attorney.