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The accuracy of paternity tests

Many parents in Texas know that paternity tests are often used to determine the biological fathers of children. The tests are generally used to establish the paternity of fathers in child custody and support cases. However, what some people do not know is that paternity tests are not always 100 percent accurate.

The results of paternity tests are determined based on the number of loci pulled from the children and alleged fathers. Loci are the DNA match points. During a paternity test, the DNA of a baby is compared to the DNA of the alleged father because half of the chromosomes in a child's DNA come from the father. The best results come from tests that utilize 16 loci, but some facilities only analyze 13, resulting in less accurate results.

Additionally, there are two types of paternity test results. Inclusion test results show the likelihood that a man is the biological father of a child. In a majority of cases, this appears as a percentage, and the best is 99 percent and higher. Exclusion test results exclude men who do not have matching pairs of chromosomes with the tested children, and these results are considered 100 percent accurate. Paternity tests have improved over the years, and the most accurate results reach 99.99 percent. However, the courts only need a 97 percent match to accept the paternity of a father.

In child custody cases, the courts consider more than paternity test results when determining whether one or both parents will have legal or physical custody or whether one parent will pay financial support to the custodial parent. Also considered are the children's best interests, which may include what the children want or the financial standing of each parent, depending on the type of case.

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