Paternity Testing FAQ
Paternity Testing FAQ
Below you will find questions and answers to everything you need to know about DNA paternity testing, both legal and peace of mind. Our paternity testing FAQ is just a guide so if we have still not answered your questions, please call us on: 0333 600 1300 and one of our paternity testing experts will be happy to help.
How does paternity testing work?
Our paternity testing works by comparing a child’s DNA profile with that of an alleged father (and ideally the mother as well). Because a child inherits half of his or her DNA from each biological parent, such a comparison reveals whether the child may have inherited DNA from the alleged father who is being tested. We prefer to have a sample taken from the mother of a child, but we can test without this.
Peace of Mind tests are done purely for your own information. For this reason, we will send out a kit to an address of your choice for you to collect the cheek swab samples at a time convenient to you. You can then post them back to our laboratory for the required analysis and we will email out a report which will confirm the likelihood of paternity.
What type of paternity test should I use?
If you need a test for your own knowledge of whether or not an alleged father is the true biological father of the child, then you can order a peace of mind testing kit, so you can take the sample yourself at your own convenience in your home and send it off to our laboratory for analysis. This test is extremely accurate, but it cannot be used for legal reasons because the sample has not been taken by someone impartial. If you need to use the test in legal proceedings, such as in court or for the Child Support Agency, then you will need a legal paternity test, which we can also provide. For certain legal cases, you may require the involvement of a GP to take the sample to be admissible as proof of paternity.
We can also provide non-invasive prenatal testing if the baby has not been born yet. Much like a legal test, this cannot be self-administered, but we can send out one of our registered nurses to take a blood sample, which can then be analysed by our laboratory to determine paternity. We can also provide Y chromosome testing if the alleged father is not available for any of the paternity tests, using another male family member from their side of the family. However, if the alleged father is available we highly recommend that the test is performed using his sample.
What is the difference between a peace of mind test and a court approved paternity test?
A ‘peace of mind’ test means that the paternity test can be self-administered at home using one of our kits that we will send to an address of your choice. It can be used for your own knowledge and peace of mind, but as the samples will have been collected by you (self-administered) it cannot be used in legal proceedings. It will not be admissible in court, as proof of paternity for the Child Support Agency or for immigration purposes. It is still an extremely accurate form of testing, and if you only need it for your own knowledge, then it is a more affordable solution to determining the paternity of a child.
A ‘court-approved test’ is a test that can be used as proof of paternity in legal cases. The difference here is that the sample will have been collected by a third party, who can certify that the person who is required to be tested is definitely the person who is actually being tested and that all the required procedures are followed during the sample collection process. The analysis process and results are not necessarily any more accurate than those of a peace of mind test, but it does reduce the possibility of foul-play – such as tampering and bogus sample donations (the wrong person’s sample being used due to a fraudulent submission).
If you require a paternity test for your own knowledge order a peace of mind test kit to perform at your own convenience, any time. If you require a court-approved test, then order a legal paternity test, and we can arrange for one of our sample collectors to visit you at an address of your choice at a time that’s convenient to you. Alternatively, you can visit one of our Walk-in Centres for free sample collection that does not require an appointment.
How much will the test cost in total?
The price for a peace of mind paternity test is from £99.00 to test one child, one alleged father and one mother.
A legal paternity test costs a little more – please see our legal paternity Testing page here.
How long will it take?
The kit is sent out the same day in the first class post (provided you instruct us before 2 pm), and once we receive the samples back into our laboratory, you will be emailed your results the next working day by close of business. We send our results out from 4 pm onwards on the day.
At what age can the child be tested for a paternity test/can you do prenatal paternity testing?
A paternity test can be conducted with a child of any age. There is no minimum age requirement, and the procedure is totally painless. We can also test the paternity of a child before they are born. We can perform non-invasive prenatal testing to determine the paternity of the baby. However, the mother will need to have been pregnant for at least eight weeks before this test can be conducted. Please see our pre-natal testing/ page for more information.
Is the test confidential?
Our testing is 100% confidential. We follow strict procedures from start to finish with all of our sample collection. We will not disclose results or personal information to third parties, and we password protect all of the data, so we will only discuss any details of the testing with those who are entitled to know (on receipt of correct passwords or answers to unique security questions).
Does the mother have to give a sample?
We can perform the DNA test without the mother’s sample however it is not something we recommend as half of the child’s DNA is shared with the mother. This means when we perform a DNA test without the mother’s sample you do run the risk of obtaining an inconclusive result if we come across an anomaly such as a mutated allele, in this case, we would require the mother’s sample anyway which would cause delays in the process.
Why do we have to test the mother?
Half of the child’s DNA comes from the mother and the other half from the father. When the mother is included, it is possible to identify which of the child’s DNA comes from her, leaving the paternal DNA to compare against the alleged father. When the mother is included in the testing, it provides much greater certainty and conclusiveness of the results. If the mother is not included, it can reduce the CPI (Combined Paternity Index) and probability so much so that the result is no longer conclusive or definite, in which case we would require the mother’s sample anyway. This leads to the process taking longer and delays to the result. It is ultimately in your best interest to include the mother in the testing from the start. Please see (Paternity Testing with the Mother) for more information on the subject.
How are the results analysed?
When AlphaBiolabs carries out a paternity test, we use the very latest, most advanced technology available.
A child is born with half of the genetic footprint from its mother and half from its father. When analysing a genetic footprint, we look for individual points in the sequence which we call markers. We are fully accredited for DNA testing using 24 markers, utilising the very latest DNA technology to ensure the reliability and accuracy of our genetic testing.
In DNA test example (A.) you can see that the child’s DNA footprint is made up from half the mother and half the potential father.
In DNA test example (B.) you can see that the potential father does not share any markers with the child and is therefore excluded from paternity (i.e. he cannot be the father)
How accurate are the results?
The results of paternity testing are extremely accurate, especially if the testing also involves the mother (see above). No paternity test available can claim 100% probability of paternity, but this does not mean that they are not accurate. We can proudly state that our paternity testing can determine a probability of paternity of over 99.99%.
Our results are about as accurate as possible when determining the probably of paternity. However, it is important to consider the difference between words such as ‘conclusive results’, ‘probability of paternity’ and ‘accuracy’.
To clarify, anywhere that claims that it can give 100% probability of paternity (rather than ‘accuracy’) may be being more than misleading. Be sure to look for the percentage of probability as well as the accuracy as all companies will claim to be accurate.
AlphaBiolabs is a UKAS ISO 17025 accredited laboratory, which means it meets the highest standards having been independently assessed by the sole national body recognised for international quality requirements for laboratories.
Can the kits be sent to two addresses?
We can send our paternity testing kits to two addresses. If you require the kits to be sent to more than two addresses there is an additional fee of £12.00 per address.
Can the results be sent to two people?
Whoever instructs us to perform the paternity test has full control of who the results are sent to and we password protect all of our cases so only you can have access to any of the information at any time. However by law, anybody who takes part in the test does have right to receive a copy of the results in writing (in this case it will be email). So if we are asked by a member of the tested party for a copy of the results we have duty to send them to that person without the instructing parties consent.
Can we get a hard copy of the results in the post?
Yes, there is an additional fee of £30.00 to obtain the hard copy in the post.
How to take a home paternity test?
Once you have purchased and receive your paternity testing kit, there are just four simple steps you need to follow to receive your results. All the information you need with simple instructions is included in our paternity kit.
- Complete and sign all documentation provided. Included with the kit are consent forms, which must be signed and sent back to AlphaBiolabs with the DNA samples.
- Rub the inside of the left cheek 20 times using the swab provided and place in colour coded labelled envelope; repeat on right cheek using second swab.
- Place all swab envelopes and completed form in the large envelope and post back to AlphaBiolabs using the correct postage.
- Receive your results the next working day by email
Please Note: Because of this sample collection method, this paternity test provides results that are not legally defensible and cannot be used in a court of law or for the CSA (Child Support Agency).
How to take paternity test DNA Sample (Video)
The video below is a quick guide, instructing you how to take your home paternity test, and what you need to do to get a DNA sample back to us for DNA testing.
What’s included in our DNA paternity test sample collection kit
Please be careful when opening the packaging so as not to damage the DNA testing swabs. Our DNA paternity collection kit contains enough collection swabs to test one child, one mother and one alleged father.
In our kit you receive:
- DNA Peace of mind paternity testing request form
- Personal details and DNA test consent from
- Full instructions on how to take the and return the samples back to us
- A self addressed envelope to enable you to send your DNA samples back to us
- x3 DNA sample collection swab packages containing x2 swabs in each package
- Individual sample envelopes for the mother, child and alleged father
When you receive your paternity testing kit please read all the information enclosed carefully and follow the sample collection instructions.
Please note that we cannot start the paternity testing process until all the consent forms are signed by ALL parties involved.
How long does the kit last?
Our kits are designed so you can take the samples at a time and a place that is convenient to you. As long as the swab packages are not opened then the kit should not be compromised, so there is no official expiry date for the kit.
Will I need a doctor or other medical professional?
You do not need a doctor or any other medical professional for our peace of mind test. In some legal cases, you may be required to have your sample collected by a nominated impartial third party (usually a GP). However, this is not always the case, and in scenarios where this is not a requirement we will be able to arrange for one of our fully qualified staff to collect the sample. This can be done at an address of your choosing or at one of our walk-in centres.
Does taking a sample hurt?
In most cases a sample can be taken using a mouth swab that looks much the same as a cotton-wool swab. This is totally painless as the mouth swab is rubbed on the inside of the cheeks to gather cheek cells which are used for the DNA testing. Prenatal testing will require blood being taken, but we use a non-invasive method that will not disturb the baby and is totally safe.
The baby’s DNA is analysed from the mother’s blood stream, so it is only the mother herself that will need to have any blood extracted and not the baby.
How do I interpret the results/is help available after I get my results?
In cases where the results are conclusive (either 0% or above 99% probability of paternity) the interpretation may seem pretty straight-forward. However, even results with very high or low extremes of percentages can be a bit more confusing for people to interpret. Whenever you have ordered a test with us we are available to help you every step of the way. If you require any help then you can contact our friendly team who can advise you on what the results indicate in an easy to understand manner.
What happens to the DNA after the test is carried out?
The DNA sample itself is kept for 3 months and the results of the tests are kept for 12 months. One of the reasons they are kept after testing is to allow for any retesting if required. These time frames comply with all the necessary legislation (such as the Data Protection Act and Human Tissue Act).
Do you have Parental Responsibility?
In the past parental responsibility has always been granted to the mother of a child, as it is she who is automatically granted Parental Responsibility upon the child’s birth.
If the mother is married to the father, he also has automatic Parental Responsibility and even if the mother and father were married once but have since divorced, the father is still granted automatic Parental Responsibility.
If however, the couple has never been married, the father has been given no parental rights or responsibilities. Parental Responsibility is very important because without it, since September 2006 it is against the law to conduct a paternity test unless you have parental responsibility.
If the baby was born before November 2003, in order to gain Parental Responsibility the father has had to register a document that has been signed by the mother granting Parental Responsibility, obtaining a court order that would require a hearing regarding the request for Parental Responsibility, or later marrying the mother of the child. Learn more here.
Now it is easy to gain this same parental right by:
- Registering on the birth certificate of the child together with the mother
- Obtaining a Residence Order for the child, which was previously known as Custody
- Or by getting a court order
Once Parental Responsibility has been applied for, both parties will appear in court, and a judge will hear from all sides.
If the Parental Responsibility Order is denied in court, an appeal can always be made, and generally, the appeals are quite successful.
We cannot perform a either legal or peace of mind Paternity Test unless all the form enclosed in the kit are signed by all parties with parental responsibility.
Have you thought about the consequences?
There could be many consequences of taking a paternity test and not just for the relationship between the alleged father and the child in question. We would like you to think about all the consequences of taking a paternity test. We offer a free helpline and a support service list of independent websites who can advise you and help you think about all the relationship issues that may arise from taking a DNA paternity test.
Note: Our Paternity Testing FAQ is for a guide only, please call one of our experts for more information on paternity.