DNA Paternity Testing FAQ

Paternity Testing Frequently Asked Questions

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 still have not answered the question you want to know please call us free 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 often 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 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 still 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 and a medical professional will need 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 father is not available for any of the paternity tests, using another male family member from their side of the family. However, if the father is available we highly recommend that the test is performed with the alleged father whenever possible.

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 as paternity for the Child Services 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 piece of mind test kit to perform at your own convenience, any time. If you require a court approved paternity 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 guide on how much a paternity test costs.

How long will it take?

The kit is sent out the same day in first class post (provided you instruct us before 2pm) 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 4pm 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 9 weeks before this test can be conducted. Please see our prenatal testing page.

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?

It is it not necessary for the mother to provide her 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 mothers 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 conclusively 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 mothers 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 carry out a paternity test we use the very latest, most advanced technology available.

A child is born with half of the genetic footprint of its mother and half from its father. When analysing a genetic footprint we look for individual points in the sequence which we call DNA 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.

Paternity test case examples

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%. Any company claiming that they are ‘100% accurate’ aren’t necessarily lying, but they may be using such wording to be misleading if done intentionally. Our results ARE about as accurate as it gets, at determining the probably of paternity.

But 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 by the government for international quality requirements for laboratories.

Is my paternity test really court approved?

AlphaBiolabs’ legal DNA testing follows strict procedures to maintain chain of custody, which means that our results are court-approved and are accepted by:

  • Family law courts
  • The Ministry of Justice
  • The Child Support Agency
  • The UK Visas and Immigration Service
  • The Home Office

A number of companies claim that their tests are legal or court admissible, but sadly this is not always the case. For the results of your paternity test to be accepted as evidence of paternity in UK courts of law under section 20 of the Family Law Act your tester must be on the Ministry of Justice’s list of accredited DNA testing suppliers. You can see AlphaBiolabs listing here.

You need to also ensure that you buy your DNA test from a supplier that is fully accredited for legal DNA testing. If a supplier has not achieved ISO 17025 accreditation for its administrative processes it could disclose your information to third parties such as advertisers.

As well as ISO 17025 accreditation, the Human Tissue Act (HTA) which came into force in September 2006 places additional restrictions and responsibilities on those conducting DNA paternity tests. The HTA has requested that (other) DNA testing companies take urgent action to review the content of their websites and their practices to ensure that they are complying with the HTA and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

What else can be discovered from a paternity test?

DNA testing can be used to learn a number of things including susceptibility to a range of diseases; however, the DNA sample that is taken for our paternity test will only be used for paternity testing. Customers can be reassured that information regarding their test results is only released to those individuals that the customer nominates.

AlphaBiolabs conforms to the requirements of the GDPR. Samples are destroyed after 3 months and all identification paperwork –hard copy and electronic files – are destroyed after 12–18 months.

Is DNA profile unique?

The chance of two people having the same DNA profile is extremely rare.

However, identical twins – who have developed from the same fertilised egg share the same genetic material – and will therefore have the same DNA profile. Although, identical twins do not have identical fingerprints! You can read other fun facts about twins here.

Is home paternity testing illegal?

The Human Tissue Act 2004 covers England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Section 45 of this act includes a section on the non-consensual analysis of DNA and creates a new offence of DNA ‘theft’. It is unlawful to have human tissue with the intention of its DNA being analysed, without the consent of the person from whom the tissue came. In Scotland, The Human Tissue (Scotland) Act 2006 deals with the uses of human tissue, and similarly includes the non-consensual analysis of DNA. The offence of DNA theft thus applies UK-wide.

Failing to obtain or misusing consent could result in penalties of up to 3 years imprisonment, a fine, or both. As such, regardless of who is instructing the DNA test, written authority is needed from any adult whose samples are provided for DNA testing. This is required by all testing laboratories, not just accredited laboratories like AlphaBiolabs.

When the DNA test involves a child under 16 years of age, only those who have parental responsibility for the child are able to give permission for the child’s DNA to be used in the test.

Will you provide my paternity results to Government Agencies?

We never disclose any information to any person or body unless specifically told to release this information by the individuals taking the test. This has never happened in 15 years of performing DNA paternity testing.

Can you test for paternity before the child is born?

Yes: our DNA prenatal paternity test is the UK’s most accurate non-invasive method to determine paternity of a baby before birth. This advanced procedure analyses the baby’s DNA that is found within the mother’s bloodstream. As such, there is no risk to the mother or the unborn child when taking this test, unlike an invasive prenatal test in which embryonic fluid is taken directly from the womb using a needle.

Do you need the mother's DNA sample for a paternity test?

We do not need the mother’s DNA sample to perform a paternity test. Our paternity tests look at up to 42 DNA markers and examine the child’s DNA to identify which half is inherited from the mother and which half is from the father.

However, the Human Genetics Commission and the Department of Health both recommend that the mother should be at least aware of the test if not directly involved. Including the mother’s sample also helps identify which of the child’s DNA comes from her, leaving the paternal DNA to compare against the alleged father.

Where can I buy a paternity test?

You can purchase our simple-to-use home paternity test kit for peace of mind today for only £99.00. Information on our legal DNA testing can be found here.

Order your home paternity test

AlphaBiolabs is an award-winning DNA testing lab. Paternity testing starts from just £99.