Free and Low-Cost DNA Paternity Testing

Julie Kirk
Reviewed by MD Dr. Vilma Ruddock
paternity test

If you need to determine the father of a child, whether for legal or personal reasons, paternity testing offers a very effective way to get answers. However, this type of DNA testing can be expensive, sometimes running $500 or more. If you're on a budget but still need to know who the father is, you have a few lower-cost options.

Free Paternity Tests

In most cases, you'll need to pay for having a paternity test performed. Typically, according to DNA Center, even those people receiving medical assistance are responsible for the cost of the test. However, there are a few states that will help out if you're in need.

States That Pay for Paternity Testing

Free paternity testing isn't available in every state. Some states, such as Michigan, offer low-cost paternity testing to needy families. However, a few states do provide free testing:

  • Arizona - Arizona pays for the upfront cost of the paternity test, and if he is indeed the father of the child, then he must repay the fee.
  • Alaska - Alaska pays for the paternity test, but if the test shows the man is the father, he must reimburse the state.
  • Louisiana - In Louisiana, the state will pay for the paternity test if either of the parents is receiving public assistance. However, if it is determined the man is the father, the court may order him to reimburse the state.

Each state has different laws about paternity testing. If you're wondering if your state will pay for the test, contact your caseworker or the Department of Health.

Free Paternity Tests on the Internet

You may see advertisements for free paternity tests online. These sites offer to send you a totally free test kit to collect your sample. However, it's very important to note that while the test kit is free, the shipping of the tests and the processing of the results all come at a cost. Similarly, low-cost or free tests you can buy in stores also come with fine print. Processing the test often cost well over $100, and these tests are not court-admissible.

Three Low-Cost DNA Paternity Tests

If you're not on public assistance but still need to get an inexpensive test, you have a few other options. Depending on why you're performing the paternity test, you may be able to do the testing right at home. If you'll be using the test as evidence in a court proceeding, you should always consult your lawyer about the best low-cost options available to you.

The following home tests will save you money, but they may not stand up in court.

DNA Diagnostics Center (DDC)

Although the legal test from DNA Diagnostics Center is expensive, the home test is fairly affordable, considering the reputation of DNA Diagnostics Center. This company is the number one source for paternity tests for court proceedings and hospitals. It's also the fastest paternity test you can buy. You'll receive results only one day after the lab gets your sample. Additionally, this lab runs every test twice to guarantee their accuracy. It's important to remember that only the more expensive legal test will stand up in court. Call for exact pricing at 1-800-344-2615. Discounts are also available.

SwabTest

Another good option for an informal paternity test is SwabTest. This site guarantees its results are 99.99% accurate. The cost is $99 for the test kit, the lab test, and results for father and child. There are additional costs for additional participants.

The price of the legal DNA paternity test starts at $230 for father and child. There are additional costs for additional participants. For both tests, the standard shipping charge is $10 and you will receive your results in 7 to 10 business days. You can also opt for the overnight shipping charge of $25 and you will receive your results in 1 to 2 business days.

Home Paternity DNA Test

The HomePaternity DNA test is another possibility if you're looking for results that aren't court-admissible. Lab testing cost is $99 for father and child only. Additional people can be tested for additional fees. Shipping is included in the initial fee and you'll receive your results in two business days.

Prenatal DNA Testing

You also have the option of determining the paternity of your baby prior to birth. There is prenatal paternity testing available that is non-invasive and completely safe for you and your baby. Other diagnostic tests such as CVS (chorionic villus sampling) and amniocentesis can determine paternity while pregnant but are invasive, must be performed by your OB/GYN and there is a small chance of miscarriage.

How Prenatal DNA Testing Works

The test works by collecting samples of DNA from a simple blood draw from the mom and a swab of the inside of the cheek from the possible dad. The DNA samples are then sent to a lab to be analyzed and paternity can be established with greater than 99% accuracy. However, if you are expecting multiples (twins, triplets) this type of paternity test is not recommended.

Prenatal DNA Tests That Are Available

Unlike the DNA paternity test, there are no free or cheap prenatal paternity tests for DNA at this time - and they do tend to be expensive. However, many of the testing centers do offer payment plans. The following are a few prenatal DNA tests that are available and their approximate costs:

DNA Diagnostics Center (DDC)

The DNA Diagnostics Center, as mentioned above, also offers a non-invasive prenatal paternity test which can be performed as early as seven weeks gestation. You have a choice of legal or peace-of-mind results and the test will be conducted at one of their affiliated labs. The results will be available online in seven business days, however, there is the option of receiving your results in three days for an additional fee. This test can also determine the gender of your baby. Payment plans are available if needed. Again, you will need to call 1-800-344-2615 for pricing. Financing options are also available.

Prenatal Genetics Center

The Prenatal Genetics Center non-invasive prenatal paternity test can be performed at about 10 weeks. A sample kit is sent to you with collection tubes for your blood draw and the potential father's cheek swab. You will be assigned to go to a local lab or hospital for your blood draw. The results will take nine business days or if you'd like your results sooner, you can get them in five days for an extra fee. The test also includes a free follow-up test after the baby is born. They do offer a payment plan for the test, which is just under $1,000, with a $200 deposit. While this isn't necessarily a cheap paternity test to take while pregnant, the payment plan can make it easier to afford.

EasyDNA Non-Invasive Prenatal Paternity Test

The EasyDNA non-invasive prenatal paternity test can be done at eight weeks of pregnancy. Just like the other prenatal tests, collection samples are required from the mother and potential father. Standard results are available in 7 to 10 days. For an extra fee, express test results are also available. For an additional fee of $175, you can have the baby's gender included in the report. They do have a payment plan for the costs, which start at around $1,300, with a 50% deposit as well.

Peace of Mind at a Lower Price

Although free tests aren't available to everyone and low-cost tests may not be admissible in court, you can still get peace of mind for a fairly limited price. However, before you send off your sample, take a moment to check out the company's reputation. You want to be sure you can trust the results you receive. Ask lots of questions and follow test procedures exactly to ensure you get accurate results.

Free and Low-Cost DNA Paternity Testing