How Much Does a Paternity Test Cost?

Last Updated on February 18, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

The cost of a paternity test can range widely depending on the type of test, where it’s conducted, and additional services included. Getting accurate pricing information is key to budgeting for this important genetic test.

Determining paternity through DNA testing provides critical answers about legal and biological fatherhood. While a paternity test will likely cost money upfront, it can save time, stress, and expenses down the road.

This guide examines the average costs of different paternity tests, what impacts the pricing, and tips for keeping fees affordable. Read on to learn what to expect to pay and how to choose the right paternity testing option for your needs.

How Much Does a Paternity Test Cost?

Most paternity tests involve collecting DNA samples from an alleged father and child to look for shared genetic markers. The average costs include:

  • At-home DNA paternity test kits – $100 to $200
  • In-lab paternity testing – $300 to $500
  • Legal paternity tests – $400 to $800

The type of sample collected and the facility performing the analysis further influence the price.

Legal vs. Personal Paternity Testing

Legal, court-admissible paternity tests conducted at accredited labs provide verified results accepted for legal proceedings but cost more than personal use tests.

  • Legal tests range from $400 to $800 or more.
  • Personal tests from $100 to $500.

According to the DNA Diagnostics Center (DDC), a home DNA paternity test (for personal knowledge and peace of mind only) costs $130 to $200, while a legal DNA paternity test (with court-admissible results) for child support, child visitation, and immigration, typically costs $300 to $500, and includes professional DNA collection.

The same website says that a non-invasive prenatal paternity test (testing before the baby is born) is $1,500 to $2,000.

AlphaBiolabs USA writes that a paternity test costs just $109 from AlphaBiolabs’ ISO17025-accredited laboratory, while a non-invasive prenatal paternity test can be purchased from AlphaBiolabs for $795.

PaternityUSA.com mentions that premium at-home DNA paternity testing will determine if an alleged male is the biological father in just 2 days with a 99.99%+ accuracy for $115.

The same website states that a legal DNA paternity test is court-approved and accepted as court evidence for proof of biological relationships for $195.

LabCorp lists the following prices:

  • A legal DNA paternity test starts at $525
  • An at-home DNA paternity test starts at $210

Legal tests involve formal sample collection procedures and documentation to ensure the chain of custody for court evidence. Testing is done at accredited labs like those recommended by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB).

Personal use home kits are not verified by third parties and results may not be accepted as proof for court.

At-Home Collection vs. In-Lab Testing

At-home paternity kits you collect yourself generally range from $100 to $200. This is the most affordable option but provides the least authoritative results.

Professional in-lab testing with formal collection procedures ranges from $300 to $500, a moderate price for more reliable results.

For legal use, in-lab testing with a strict chain of custody meets court requirements but comes at a higher cost.

Factors Affecting the Cost of Paternity Testing

Many factors affect what you’ll pay for paternity testing beyond the basic test type.

Type of Sample

Collecting DNA samples from cheek swabs is simple, non-invasive, and affordable. Swab kits cost around $100-$200.

Blood samples drawn by a medical professional provide large amounts of DNA. However, clinical collection and handling increase costs to $300 and up.

Speed of Results

Standard testing takes 1-2 weeks for labs to extract and amplify DNA and generate results.

  • Expediting fees of $100 to $200 apply for faster 5-day or 3-day processing.
  • Legal tests often require quicker turnaround times adding to costs.

Additional Consultation

Basic consumer-directed tests come with guidance for at-home sample collection.

  • Professional consultation with case managers or genetic counselors costs $75 to $150/hour.
  • In-person consultations are more expensive with travel fees.

Multiple Relationship Testing

Paternity TestStandard paternity testing compares alleged father and child samples.

  • Adding more family members’ samples raises costs by $100 to $200 per person.
  • Legal cases often require testing multiple relationships.

At-Home vs Legal Paternity Test Costs

At-home paternity test kits are a budget-friendly option, with prices ranging from $100-$200 depending on the lab and speed of results.

  • Simple cheek swab collection
  • Mail-in sample prep
  • Results in 1-2 weeks typically
  • Personal use only

For legal proceedings, accredited lab-based tests guarantee reliable results, but at higher prices ranging from $400-$800 or more.

  • In-lab blood collection
  • Court-documented custody chain
  • Legally-admissible results
  • Fast turnaround options
  • Multiple relationship testing

At-home tests can provide a quick indication of possible paternity, while legal tests deliver definitive results you can confidently rely on.

Additional Cost Considerations for Paternity Testing

Beyond the base test fees, other variable costs to factor into your paternity testing budget include:

Sample Collection

At-home cheek swab kits include collection materials, but in-lab testing may incur sample collection charges of $50 to $100 or more depending on the facility.

Genetic Counseling

Consulting with genetic counselors or case managers costs $75 to $150 per hour by video conference or $200+ per hour for in-person visits.

Travel Expenses

In-person legal consultations, sample collection appointments, or testing facility visits can rack up travel costs.

You might also like our articles about the cost of a child support lawyer, counseling supervision, or adoption of an adult.

Court Fees

For legal cases, court filing fees apply to submit paternity test results as evidence, often $50 to $100 per filing.

Child Support Adjustments

Legally establishing paternity may lead to revised child support orders which could go up or down.

Does Health Insurance Cover Paternity Testing?

The answer is it depends on your specific health insurance plan. Some considerations:

  • Government programs like Medicaid may cover paternity testing if it benefits the child.
  • Private insurers often consider paternity testing elective and won’t cover it.
  • With insurance, out-of-pocket fees apply including co-pays and deductibles.
  • You may need to submit appeals/prior authorizations to request coverage.

Contact your insurer to learn about your coverage policy for paternity testing costs. Also check if they have in-network genetics labs to reduce your testing fees.

Picking the Right Paternity Test

Choosing the most appropriate paternity testing option involves balancing reliability, accuracy, cost, and your unique situation.

Consider Your Goals

Think about how you will use the results to inform your testing choice.

  • Curiosity – At-home kits provide an indication.
  • Legal proceedings – Accredited lab court-admissible test.
  • Child support – This may require a legal test.
  • Changing birth certificate – May need a legal test.

Prioritize Quality

Higher quality legal testing delivers more definitive results and may save money over the long-term even with higher upfront fees.

Look Into Payment Plans

Many labs offer installment plans to pay over 3-6 months, an option if the upfront cost is unaffordable.

Calculate Potential Insurance Benefits

While rarely covered, if approved insurance could significantly reduce your paternity test costs.

Final Words

While budget-friendly options start around $100, investing in a quality lab-based test brings peace of mind knowing your results are accurate if parenthood questions arise.

Legally-admissible paternity tests granting parental rights or obligations carry lifelong impact, making the $400 to $800 expense worthwhile.

Talk to a reputable paternity testing provider to discuss your needs, get accurate pricing, and select the ideal test for your situation. With the right information, you can budget wisely and obtain the paternity answers you seek.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much is the cheapest paternity test?

The cheapest paternity tests are basic at-home DNA test kits that provide a general indication of possible paternity. These at-home kits involve collecting cheek swab samples from the father and child, and then mailing them to a lab for analysis.

Costs for basic at-home paternity testing kits typically range from $100 to $200. They provide affordable personal use paternity testing but with less formal collection procedures and no third-party verification of the results.

For legal purposes, accredited lab-based paternity testing is recommended to stand up to court scrutiny, though it comes at a higher cost starting around $400.

Can you get 100% on a paternity test?

Yes, DNA-based paternity tests are extremely accurate when properly conducted, with the ability to determine biological paternity with essentially 100% certainty.

The genetics labs performing accredited legal paternity tests quote an accuracy of 99.99% or higher since DNA profiling looks at a large number of genetic markers to trace biological relationships.

Assuming proper identification of the individuals and collection of quality DNA samples, legal paternity testing provides definitive results you can feel confident in for legal proceedings.

Even at-home paternity DNA test kits can provide an accuracy of 99% or better if test instructions are carefully followed. For the highest level of certainty, legally admissible paternity testing performed at accredited labs guarantees reliable, ironclad results.

Are home DNA tests accurate?

Direct-to-consumer home DNA paternity test kits can provide accurate results in many cases, but accuracy depends on several factors:

  • Following all instructions properly – inaccurate sampling causes errors.
  • Testing the right individuals – misidentified samples skew results.
  • Adequate sample collection – poor quality samples increase ambiguity.
  • Sending samples promptly – delays reduce usable DNA.

When done correctly, leading home DNA paternity tests quote expected accuracy rates of 95% to 99%. However, the at-home collection lacks oversight, so human errors in the testing process can reduce real-world accuracy.

For maximum reliability in legal cases, accredited lab-based DNA paternity testing with strict protocols is recommended. So while home kits can provide a general indication of possible paternity, formal legal testing delivers unequivocal results.

Consulting a paternity testing provider helps explain the accuracy differences to decide which test meets your needs.

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