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  • Writer's pictureJessica & Jim Braz

Paternity tests – if not now, when?

Updated: Oct 27, 2021

If you are the woman in the story, you may or may not be sure who the father is if you have multiple partners.

If you are the man in the story, your first reaction to the “I'm pregnant" news might be, "are you sure I'm the father?" While this is a fair question to have, you want to be careful about how you ask it.

Men need to keep in mind that the woman is not telling you this news unless she is pretty darn sure you are the father, and the last thing she wants to hear at this most stressful moment is that you don't believe her or that you think she must have had multiple partners recently.

However, women should remember that while they may be 100% certain who the father is, the man does not have that same degree of certainty because he does not know for sure who else you have been with besides him. Jessica was insulted at first when she was asked for a paternity test three months after her son was born. Her lawyer was right to explain that the father just wanted to be 100% sure, as sure as Jess was.

Raising a child is a lifetime commitment. Both parents deserve to be 100% certain who the father of the child is. Certainty is a good thing for all parties involved, including the child.

Fortunately, it is easy enough to test for paternity with a cheek swab once the child is born. Your lawyer should insist on this test, and the courts will always order the test if either party requests it. In many jurisdictions, a paternity test is a standard operating procedure.

Fathers (or children) can quietly test for paternity with an off-the-shelf test from companies like 23 and Me or these days. But if either parent wants to enforce parenting rights or child support payments, then a more official test will be required by a court-approved facility.

Testing for parentage before birth requires extracting amniotic fluid from the mother's belly. It is not a riskless process, and while it may be appropriate in some extreme circumstances, it is probably not the right move for most of you.

In recent years, medical advances have made prenatal paternity tests possible using the mother's blood and the father's saliva; however, they vary widely in quality and costs. Most of you can wait until the child is born to test for paternity. Most of you can wait until the child is born to test for paternity.

So guys, try your best not to dispute her when you hear the words, "I'm pregnant, and you are the father." And ladies, try not to be defensive if he asks, "are you sure it's mine?" Neither parent should spend their time and energy arguing about a paternity test during the pregnancy. A proper test will happen if either of you wants it to happen soon after the birth.

The best thing a man can do when he learns about the pregnancy is to be supportive and take responsibility for his actions. If you slept with her, then there is at least a chance you are the father. Put yourselves in her shoes; she is probably more worried and scared than you are (See our recent post, “It’s Harder on The Women"). Chances are good if she thinks you’re the father, you probably are, and you’ll know for sure soon enough.

There will be plenty of things to disagree about with your co-parent over the years; no need to make paternity tests one of them.

-Jessica & Jim


Jim and Jessica Braz are not lawyers. While they have real-life experience in the issues discussed here, they do not give legal advice on this website. Furthermore, child custody laws, child support calculations, and family law, in general, vary from state to state. Be sure to consult an attorney in the appropriate state for your custody litigation. ​

Jim and Jessica Braz are not doctors. While they have real-life experience in the issues discussed here, they do not give medical advice on this website. Be sure to consult your doctor on your specific medical situation. ​

Jim and Jessica Braz are not licensed therapists, mediators, or counselors. While they have real-life experience in the issues discussed here, you should consult licensed professionals as needed.

The advice given on this website does not hold Jim and Jessica Braz legally liable for any adverse outcomes you may have from following their advice.

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