What is a discreet paternity test?
A standard non-invasive paternity test is performed by collecting cheek (buccal) swabs from the alleged father and the child and comparing both DNA samples to establish paternity.
If the man in question is the biological father, both the man and child will share DNA markers. If the man is not the biological father, this will not be the case.
But what if asking for a cheek swab could lead to awkward questions – especially in cases where you have an older child that you need to test?
One of the most common questions we get asked at AlphaBiolabs is, can I do a discreet or secret paternity test?
In this guide, we look at everything you need to know about discreet DNA paternity testing, including alternative methods of DNA sample collection, and the legal implications of performing a ‘secret’ paternity test.
- Is ‘discreet’ DNA testing legal?
- How can I do a discreet or ‘secret’ paternity test?
- Is AlphaBiolabs’ paternity DNA testing legal?
- What other samples can be used for a discreet paternity test?
- How can I keep a paternity test secret?
- Where can I get a discreet paternity test?
Is ‘discreet’ DNA testing legal?
The simple answer is yes, a ‘discreet’ DNA test is legal, provided consent has been obtained for any person over the age of 16 whose DNA is being submitted for testing.
For a child under the age of 16, only parental consent is required to carry out the test. This consent must be given by a person with parental responsibility for the child.
In the UK, a mother has parental responsibility for her child automatically. A father has parental responsibility if they are:
- Married to the child’s mother or
- Listed on the birth certificate (after a certain date, depending on which part of the UK the child was born in)
It’s important to note that discreet or ‘secret’ DNA testing does not mean the test can be performed without the consent of anyone over the age of 16 submitting their DNA for testing, or without the correct parental consent (from an adult with parental responsibility, if testing a child under the age of 16).
Discreet DNA testing can have several meanings, from the test being sent to your address in discreet packaging, to the delivery of your results in a secure, confidential way.
Discreet or ‘secret’ DNA testing can also refer to the method of collecting the DNA samples.
For example, if you wanted to perform a ‘secret’ paternity test on an older child, an alternative method of DNA collection could be used (instead of a cheek swab) to save any awkward questions.
However, it is important to remember that consent must still be given on the child’s behalf if the child is under the age of 16, and that the adult providing the consent must have parental responsibility for that child.
Any person over the age of 16 is considered an adult in this context and must provide their own written consent.
The question ‘is a discreet paternity test legal’ comes down to this consent.
Perhaps the most important consideration regarding the legality of ‘discreet’ DNA testing is the Human Tissue Act 2004.
Section 45 of the act makes the issue of consent for DNA testing reasonably straight forward. This part of the act states that a person’s human tissue may be considered DNA theft if:
…he has any bodily material [intended to be] analysed without qualifying consent.
Punishments for not following the Human Tissue Act include three years imprisonment, a fine or both.
Therefore, most reputable testing laboratories will carefully adhere to the act, ensuring consent is obtained before any DNA test is performed.
How can I do a discreet or ‘secret’ paternity test?
At AlphaBiolabs, we offer two alternative methods of DNA sample collection for members of the public looking for a discreet paternity test.
The first is our toothbrush DNA test, which costs £195 (plus the cost of your chosen DNA relationship test) and works by extracting a DNA sample from the toothbrush in order to perform an additional test (such as paternity testing).
A major advantage of a toothbrush DNA test is that samples can be collected in a subtle manner.
For example, for a paternity test, a child would not need to be made aware that a test is being undertaken. All you need to do is send in their regular, used toothbrush.
The second option we offer is nail DNA testing. For £195 (plus the cost of your chosen relationship test), fingernail and/or toenail clippings are sent to our laboratory for testing. Our in-house geneticists will then analyse the nail clippings to see if a DNA profile can be extracted.
Toothbrushes and nail clippings are both good sources of DNA, and both tests are especially useful for paternity disputes involving older children, where taking a cheek swab could lead to awkward questions.
As with all our DNA tests however, consent must be given by anyone over the age of 16 whose DNA is being submitted for testing.
For children under the age of 16, only parental consent is required. This consent must be provided by an adult with parental responsibility for that child.
If the correct consent is not provided, a toothbrush DNA test or nail DNA test cannot be performed.
Is AlphaBiolabs’ paternity DNA testing legal?
Yes, AlphaBiolabs’ peace of mind paternity DNA testing is completely legal.
All tests are performed in-house at our ISO 17025-accredited testing laboratory in the UK, and your password-protected results are emailed to you as standard to ensure full confidentiality.
Please be aware that for a DNA test to be carried out by AlphaBiolabs, you must have the correct consent for the person whose DNA sample is being submitted for testing.
As mentioned earlier in this article, anyone over the age of 16 must provide their own written consent. For children under the age of 16, only parental consent is required from an adult who holds parental responsibility for the child.
Without the correct consent, a DNA test cannot be performed.
We also offer court-approved DNA testing for legal matters, whether you’re going through a child maintenance or custody dispute or need to change the name on a birth certificate.
A legal paternity test is performed in the same way as a standard peace of mind paternity test, by collecting cheek (buccal) DNA swabs from the alleged father and the child and comparing the samples to identify matching DNA markers.
However, the DNA samples are collected under strict chain of custody conditions, ensuring that the samples submitted for testing belong to the correct people.
AlphaBiolabs is Ministry of Justice approved to carry out parentage tests directed by the civil courts in England and Wales under Section 20 of the Family Law Reform Act 1969. Our court-approved tests are accepted by family law courts, the Child Maintenance Service (formerly CSA), the UK Visas and Immigration Service and the Home Office.
What other samples can be used for a discreet paternity test?
There are many commercial companies who offer DNA testing services for the purposes of establishing paternity, or to determine whether your partner has been unfaithful.
There are lots of ways that providers of discreet DNA testing services collect their samples and while some companies may have found a legal loophole to allow this type of testing, that doesn’t mean to say that these methods of sample collection are ethical.
Some of the more underhand methods for collecting DNA samples include:
- Blood stains
- Cigarette butts
- Chewing gum
- Licked envelopes
- Used tissues
These types of tests vary in cost and success rate. More importantly though, such methods seem designed for the purposes of avoiding consent.
This is evident because if you wanted to perform a paternity test, surely an easier way would be to take a cheek swab or to perform a viability study using a toothbrush or fingernail/toenail clippings to extract DNA.
This is not only more practical, but would produce a more conclusive result, as the sample is less likely to have touched any other biological matter (such as an animal or another person).
Most of the things mentioned in the above list are often discarded and would not require any contact with the person to be tested, or even for them to be around at all.
As a UKAS-accredited testing laboratory, you can be assured that AlphaBiolabs will only perform DNA testing where consent has been given by any person over the age of 16 whose DNA has been submitted for testing. If testing anyone under the age of 16, an adult with parental responsibility must provide consent for the child to be tested.
We do not provide any form of DNA testing using the items mentioned in the above list.
How can I keep a paternity test secret?
As mentioned earlier in this article, it is illegal in the UK to undertake a DNA test without the consent (or parental consent) of the person whose DNA is being tested.
At AlphaBiolabs, we pride ourselves on offering the fastest and most popular paternity test in the UK, with results available either the next day or the same working day.
While we cannot perform DNA tests without consent, there are options for maintaining secrecy and confidentiality throughout the process.
As an accredited testing laboratory, we ensure that paternity testing kits are sent out in discreet packaging, with no company logos or branding.
In addition, online payment transactions do not name AlphaBiolabs as the recipient on bank statements. This helps to minimise any chance of our company name being recognised in any correspondence.
We also only discuss details of our paternity testing with those who know the correct passwords (chosen by you when placing your order) or the answers to unique security questions.
Your password-protected results are emailed to you as standard, and all reports are sent as PDF files that require a password to open them, so you can rest assured your results will not be seen by anyone else.
Additionally, all our DNA paternity samples are destroyed after three months, and all identification paperwork (hard copy and electronic files) are destroyed after 12 months.
Where can I get a discreet paternity test?
At AlphaBiolabs, we understand that paternity testing is a sensitive topic.
Before taking a paternity test, we would always encourage you to think about the potential implications for both you and your family if you do not get the result you want.
If you require a paternity test for legal matters, you will need to request a quote for a legal DNA Test.
Alternatively, you can contact our friendly and discreet Customer Services team by calling 0333 600 1300 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Head of DNA and Covid Testing at AlphaBiolabs
Casey joined the AlphaBiolabs team in 2012 and heads up both the DNA and Covid-19 testing teams.
An expert in DNA analysis and a member of the International Society for Forensic Genetics (ISFG), Casey holds an MSc with Distinction in DNA Profiling and a First-Class BSc with Honours in Forensic Science.
Casey is responsible for maintaining the highest quality testing standards, as well as looking for ways to further enhance the service that AlphaBiolabs provides and exploring new and innovative techniques in DNA analysis.