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DNA Testing for Paternity



Establishing the paternity of a child is today easily done by means of a DNA test. Such a test provides a result that is 99.99% accurate in cases where the test man is the biological father of the child. Due to the fact that DNA testing provides such astounding accuracy, other methods for determining the paternity of a child (such as comparing blood groups) are no longer used these days.

How are the samples collected?

In the past, all DNA tests were done using blood samples because the methods of analyses used required very large samples of genetic material to work with. But today a new technique known as polymerase chain reaction is the norm when analyzing DNA samples; the advantage of this method over other methods is that very small samples of genetic material can be used and analyzed successfully. Samples for a paternity test can thus, easily be collected by using cotton-tipped applicators known as oral swabs. Oral swabs are used to collect cell samples from the inside of the mouth by being rubbed under the tongue and against the inner cheek for around ten seconds. The swabs are then left to dry for around an hour and analyzed in a laboratory.

Home testing

Home paternity testing is the quickest, cheapest, and best way of knowing whether a given man is the biological father of a child or not. Home testing is recommended in cases where the alleged father has doubts as to whether or not he is the father. Online companies specialize in providing just this type of test. What they do is send out a home sampling kit that contains oral swabs, instructions, and forms. The interested parties collect their DNA samples using the oral swabs inside the kit and following the instructions provided. Once they have done this, they need to fill out the paperwork which essentially gives their consent to the testing of the DNA samples. Following the completion of these steps, all samples need to be returned for testing.

Legal Paternity Testing

There are often cases in which parents are in court, perhaps disputing child custody or child support payments. In some instances, they may need a paternity test to prove to the courts that the man in question is the biological father of the child and should thus be the one to provide payments to the child. When a DNA test is needed for a court case, DNA samples must be collected in a particular way which is referred to as a chain of custody. What happens is that all samples are collected by a neutral third party such as a doctor or any person exercising a profession. This person will act as a witness to the sample collection and declare in writing the provenance of every sample taken. In this way, the result can stand in court and will not be contested or declared invalid.

Father not available for the test

There are instances in which a paternity test is required but the alleged father is not available to provide a DNA sample. In this case, the paternity of the child can still be established by testing the alleged father’s relatives. Examples of such tests include:

Sibling testing: DNA testing of siblings to confirm whether they share the same biological father

Aunt/uncle testing: testing the blood siblings of the alleged father and comparing their DNA to that of the child can be a means of determining whether these truly are the biological aunt and uncle of the child. If the test result confirms they are, then the untested biological father is also the biological father of the child (the nephew or niece of the aunt and uncle tested)

Grandparents testing: by testing both the grandmother and the grandfather of the alleged father, genetic analysts can reconstruct the missing father’s DNA profile and compare it to that of the child. When both paternal grandparents are available, this test is extremely accurate. On the other hand, it is generally considered unfeasible when only one grandparent is available.