A legal paternity test is used when court admissible results are required, typically in cases of child custody, child support or paternity disputes. Home tests are informative DNA tests of which results are used for peace of mind or just for reassurance. The have no legal validity.
How do legal tests differ to home tests?
A legal paternity test will provide the same accurate result as that of a standard paternity test. However, the legal paternity test differs in that it requires a different sample collection procedure, also known as Chain-of-Custody, to ensure the correct identity of the samples sent for testing. The samples in a legal test have to be collected by an independent third party, normally a medical practitioner or qualified nurse, who will take responsibility to handle the DNA samples once they have been collected and act as a witness to the sampling.
By going through this procedure, the result of the legal paternity test can then be used for proceedings in a court of law or for applications to various government departments such as for immigration applications. It is therefore important, prior to ordering your paternity test, to identify and be well-informed as to which type of test you require.
Can I upgrade to a legal test?
If you select the home paternity test, then it CANNOT be used for legal purposes and it CANNOT be upgraded to a legal DNA test at a later stage. This is because the samples in a home paternity test are not collected using the chain of custody procedure necessary for a legal paternity test. Moreover, you cannot use results of a home test in a court of law.
In most paternity tests that we deal with the mother of the child is known. Therefore, we are sometimes asked: what is the benefit of testing the mother when it is possible to obtain a conclusive result even with only the father’s sample? The answer: including the sample of the mother in a DNA paternity test (and other DNA tests) will strengthen the final result of that test.
When can testing the mother be important?
A DNA paternity test compares 20 genetic markers of the alleged father to those of the child. If the alleged father is in fact the true biological father of the child, then all 20 genetic markers will match between the two profiles. If there are markers which do not match, then the alleged father will be excluded as the child’s paternal father. However, there are cases where a possible mutation may have occurred on one of the loci which may result in an inconclusive result. In such cases, the sample of the mother will assist to conclude the result as it will be able to confirm if the mutation is really a mutation or not.
Testing the mother is also very important in the case of DNA relationship tests such as for siblings, aunt/uncles and grandparents where the sample of the mother greatly increases the chance of obtaining a conclusive result.
What about relationship testing cases?
In relationship DNA testing, the mother’s sample is extremely useful. For example, in the case of a full siblings test, the sample of the mother will allow for the elimination of part of the genetic data that has to be compared between the two siblings, thereby, leaving the genetic markers inherited from the biological father for a more straightforward comparison, hence making the result more accurate.
At easyDNA we offer the opportunity to include the sample of the Mother at no extra cost. Therefore, if available, we strongly recommend that the sample of the mother is included when submitting your paternity test.