If you’ve fathered a child out of wedlock or have become pregnant without your husband as the father … What do you do?
Historically, women who became pregnant during the marriage, but with the child fathered by someone other than their husband, often kept the child’s parentage a secret, for many obvious reasons. This was before DNA testing made it quite easy to determine who the child’s father was.
Also before DNA testing, men who fathered a child with a woman outside the marriage, often made the decision to pay support secretly, sometimes under contract, in order to buy the silence of the child’s mother.
Now the situation is different. Families are much more open about previous marriages and children, and marriages often include the inclusion at family gatherings of children that were fathered or born to women out of wedlock, and DNA testing easily makes the wondering about paternity less of a question.
If you find yourself in this situation, here are a few facts about DNA testing:
- There is now DNA testing that can be done while the baby is in utero . Having this test done – it’s a blood test – is relatively inexpensive and you can determine paternity before birth. It’s a big advantage for many different reasons that might be important to family planning or just peace of mind. You don’t have to legally disclose to your spouse that you are doing this test and it eliminates the uncertainty.
- Waiting until the baby is born to test can be riskier. The longer you wait to tell your spouse, the more bonding can occur and you may give grounds for a legal challenge. The sooner, the better.
- At-home tests, often purchased at a drug store, can work just fine, but you will need an independent third party lab for an official test result.
- Always make sure the lab you visit is accredited, usually with ISO 17025 testing standards.
- There are multiple types of DNA samples that can be used, depending on the lab. Blood, hair, saliva and discarded tissues are possible samples.