Paternity testing can be broken into roughly two types of tests: a Legal paternity test (also known as court admissible DNA testing) and home paternity testing, or home paternity kits, often referred to as "peace of mind" DNA testing. The type of paternity test you should choose depends on how you intend to use the DNA test results. If you are collecting paternity test data for use in official legal situations such as adding a name to a birth certificate, removing a name from a birth certificate, obtaining or challenging child support, estate or inheritance purposes, or to demonstrate a paternity relationship for medical reasons, or adoption, to mention a few, then you need the results to be from a Legal DNA test. However, if you need the test results only for private comprehension, a peace of mind home DNA test may be the option for you.
Home DNA Paternity Tests
Private at home paternity testing options today are numerous and it can be overwhelming to know which test to trust. Deciding factors should be the number of DNA markers being tested, the accreditation of the lab (even home tests should be done through accredited labs for accuracy), and if the DNA test results are the same as if you took a legal DNA test. You should only consider taking a peace of mind home DNA test if you are going to use the answers it delivers ONLY for your own knowledge. It is always important to remember that doing the testing yourself without the appropriate official oversight means that the test results can’t be used in legal situations.
You are probably familiar with the ease and simplicity involved in pregnancy testing with results available in minutes. This is not yet the case for DNA tests, and the time from obtaining the samples, to getting the results, can vary at some labs from a week to two weeks, depending on how fast the samples arrive at the lab. Unfortunately the technology to perform these tests has not yet reached a stage where you can get a result in minutes, however DNA Examiners is currently able test results in as little as two days once our lab has all the DNA samples.
When taking a home DNA paternity test the parties involved usually collect a DNA sample by themselves. The advantage of this is that the collection can be done at your convenience, over as long a period of time as is required to assemble samples from everyone involved. DNA Examiners offers the option of ordering a home collection kit and having it sent to the locations of those being tested. We can provide more than one paternity test kit if the alleged father and child being tested are in different locations. It’s a simple process to collect a DNA sample, most commonly from a swab from the inside of your cheeks of your mouth, although if one party is not available to test, other samples may be used for testing. Next you ship the sample back to our lab and the samples are examined and compared to determine if there is a conclusive match between the father and child. In most cases, the mother does not need to be tested to obtain a reliable and conclusive result.
Legally recognized DNA paternity tests
The major difference between home paternity DNA tests and those that you can use in courts of law lies in the method of sample collection. As stated above, with home DNA tests, the parties involved collect their own samples whenever it is convenient. By contrast, legally admissible DNA tests need to maintain a strict chain of custody, including documentation to verify both the process and the parties, which ensures that the results are defensible. Legal paternity tests require a set sample collection appointment, at which point the sample collector can complete all the documentation to validate chain of custody requirements. Different appointments can be set if both parties, for any reason, are not able to attend the same appointment.
While in the majority of legal paternity tests a set appointment at one of our DNA center locations is required, there are sometimes circumstances that may require alternative collection times or methods, including a home legal paternity test kit. DNA Examiners will work with you to help find the best solution for your unique situation.
Interpreting DNA test results
DNA paternity testing determines one of two things: either a man is the biological father of a child or he is not. We all inherit the DNA that we have from our biological parents, half from our mother and half from our father, which means everyone has a unique profile that can be used for identification. DNA paternity testing compares the DNA pattern from the alleged father with that of the child to look for patterns of markers that highlight this inheritance pattern. When the tests are conducted through our accredited lab, this is the most authoritative proof of a relationship that we can scientifically determine.
The results after taking your DNA paternity test are simple to understand. An "Exclusion" means it is not possible for the alleged father to be the biological parent; an "Inclusion" meand the alleged father is without a doubt the biological parent. All of our accredited testing is at least 99.9% accurate in determining inclusions (the highest scientific probability available) and 100% certainty of exclusion.
DNA test regulation
In the USA, both the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA), administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), as well as the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) regulates the DNA paternity testing industry. If you are seeking DNA test results for admission in legal cases then it is a requirement that they be produced by an accredited laboratory. Currently, test results obtained outside of an accredited lab's purview are not considered admissible in courts of law. The same consideration applies for using test results in cases where submission is to welfare offices, authorities that deal with immigration (e.g. USCIS), and United States embassies overseas where DNA is needed to bolster immigration petitions. And, of course, these accreditations are also required to do Legal DNA Paternity Testing that is submitted to government agencies in cases of child support, custody issues, changing names on the birth certificate, and for medical as well as adoption purposes.
All legal paternity testing from DNA Examiners is fully accredited.