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Determining paternity during pregnancy

View profile for Francesca Cozens
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Determining paternity during pregnancy

When I started out in practice, many moons ago, if I saw a client, mother or potential father and clarity was needed over the paternity of an unborn child, there was no real safe option to determine the issue until after the baby had been born. 

Historically, the only way to test for paternity during pregnancy was by using a needle to take a sample of amniotic fluid or samples from the placenta. There was a risk of miscarriage by the test being performed so many couples just had to wait. This placed additional pressure on a relationship where perhaps the father cannot/will not bond with the unborn child in case he is not the father, resulting in the relationship breaking down (even if the child was later confirmed as his).

Advances in DNA analysis mean that a safe (non-invasive) test can be taken at just seven weeks of pregnancy to establish the father of a child. This is incredible. 

The child’s DNA is in the mother’s bloodstream. She needs to give a blood sample, and a mouth swab is used to collect DNA from the mother and father. These tests are all completed by trained professionals and follow a strict chain of custody. Results are available within a matter of days.

This type of paternity testing gives certainty. If a relationship has broken down or there is a dispute over paternity, the test gives certainty and allows the parents to discuss child maintenance and the arrangements for the father to spend time with the child, after the child is born.

These types of paternity tests are also used by local authorities to prove/disprove paternity where there may be safeguarding concerns if a child is born. By establishing paternity at an early stage, the matter either disappears or early assessments/plans can be put in place.


If you would like more information or have any queries about determining paternity during pregnancy, please contact Francesca Cozens on 01245 453843 or francesca.cozens@birkettlong.co.uk who would be happy to help.

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