Entertainment Love and Romance Home Paternity Test Kits Share PINTEREST Email Print Blend Images - Mike Kemp/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images Love and Romance Relationships Sexuality Divorce Teens LGBTQ Friendship By Debrina Washington Family law attorney and writer University of Pittsburgh School of Law Skidmore College Debrina L. Washington is a New York-based family law attorney and writer, who runs her own virtual practice to assist single parents with legal issues. our editorial process Debrina Washington Updated March 16, 2018 Home paternity test kits are readily available, but can they be trusted? Let's look at how mail order paternity testing works, when to use it, and what you need to know about accuracy. When Home Paternity Test Kits Are Used Home paternity test kits are typically used to establish paternity in situations where the biological connection between the alleged father and the child is unclear or when either parent files for child support or initiates child custody proceedings. When a child is born, the birth father can formally establish paternity by signing an acknowledgment of paternity at the hospital. If, however, a man is unsure whether he is the biological father, he has the right to undergo a paternity test. While paternity can be established at a doctor's office or lab, at-home paternity test kits are often selected for their convenience and privacy. How to Use an At-Home Paternity Test Kit At-home paternity testing involves collecting DNA samples in the privacy of your home, versus the traditional paternity test that requires going to a doctor's office or test lab. Remember that both parents should be involved in the process. It is not advisable to perform at-home paternity testing in secret or without discussing it first. Once you've both agreed to the process and purchased a kit, you'll need to: Use the cotton swab provided to swab the inside of your baby's cheek for some saliva Repeat this step using a different cotton swab in the alleged father's mouth Follow directions for packaging the DNA samples for mailing (be careful not to cross-contaminate the two cotton swabs)Either parent should then mail the test kit to the lab, as per the directionsThe results should be sent back to the parents within a week Benefits of At-Home Paternity Testing There are several benefits to at-home testing, including: Cost-effectivePrivatePotentially faster results Drawbacks of At Home Paternity Testing Although there are several benefits to taking a paternity test at home, there are some drawbacks, which include: False resultsIndividuals misunderstanding or misreading the resultsMisuse of the test The Cost of Home Paternity Testing Home paternity testing kits generally cost less than one hundred dollars and may be purchased at any major drugstore. The accuracy of Home Paternity Tests At home paternity tests may be as accurate as a test performed at a doctor's office. However, there are a few things to keep in mind: If the test is used for a court hearing, you should check with your state before taking it, as the state may have specific rules surrounding paternity testingThe directions should be followed completely in order to avoid false resultsBe sure to have the consent of the child's mother before performing an at-home paternity test The Manner in Which Home Results Are Reported Home paternity testing results can be reported in many different ways. Home paternity tests can be reported: Via a secure emailVia mailOver the phone There are times when the paternity of a child is called into question. The question may arise while the mother is pregnant with the child or after the parent has given birth. At-home paternity test kits have several benefits, but there are some potential risks (as noted above). Additionally, at-home paternity testing can only be performed after the mother gives birth to the child. For more information about paternity testing, consider speaking with a qualified medical practitioner or a qualified attorney.