Maine Child Support: Division of Support Enforcement & Recovery (DSER)

What is genetic/DNA paternity testing?

Genetic/DNA paternity testing examines a person's genetic markers. A child's paternity can be determined by looking at genes from the mother, child and biological father. All humans have a unique set of genes, just as we each have a unique set of fingerprints. The material that makes up these genes is called DNA. Most cells in our bodies contain the same DNA pattern.

A child receives half of his/her DNA from the mother and the other half from the father. By comparing a child's DNA with his/her parents, doctors can determine if they are the biological parents. If none of the child's genes match those from the man being tested, then he cannot be the child's biological father.

How is testing done?

The usual process involves taking samples from the mother, child and the man being tested. Samples do not have to be taken at the same time. However, samples taken at separate times may delay the final results. If either the mother or the alleged father is deceased, samples may be taken from either the mother or alleged father's parents or even from the deceased. Paternity can also be determined by samples taken just from the child and man being tested. A sample can also be taken from a child before they are born or at birth using umbilical cord blood.

Every participant is required to present identification (i.e. driver's license, birth certificate) before samples are taken. In addition, each participant is fingerprinted and photographed.

Taking samples is simple. DNA is extracted by swabbing the inside of a person's cheek with a soft sponge (called a buccal swab), or taking a small blood sample, usually drawn from the arm. Testing is the same for either method of sample collection. DNA from tissue cells cannot be changed, so drugs, alcohol or diet will not affect the test results.

Samples are sent to a laboratory certified by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) for testing and are usually available within 2-6 weeks.

Who does genetic testing?

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Support Enforcement and Recovery (DSER) schedules and administers paternity testing at 12 diffferent sites around Maine. Contact your nearest DSER Office for more information. (See last section)

There are two companies registered with the Maine Secretary of State's Office who provide accredited genetic testing services for private paternity establishment. Both have headquarters out-of-state and are accredited by the AABB. Once contacted by phone, they will tell you the closest sample collection site in Maine. Staff at the collection site will mail the sample and paperwork to the accredited Laboratory.

  • DNA Diagnostic Center - 1-800-362-2368
  • Laboratory Corporation of America 1-800-742-3944 (voicemail option 3)

There are other companies in Maine who provide genetic testing services by physician referral. Contact your physician to learn more about these services.

Are results confidential?

Paternity testing is a sensitive issue for all people involved. Results are not provided by telephone and information is not released to anyone without proper authorization from those being tested.