Paternity test without mother
We are often asked whether a paternity test can be carried out without the mother’s DNA.
In this article, we explain what is required for a paternity test, including whether you need the mother’s DNA and whether a mother can refuse a paternity test.
- What is a peace of mind paternity test?
- Can I do a paternity test without the mother’s DNA?
- Do I need the mother’s consent for a paternity test?
- Can a mother refuse a paternity test?
- What can I do if the mother is refusing a paternity test?
- What is the difference between a peace of mind paternity test and a legal paternity test?
- Who can request a legal paternity test?
- Why is consent needed for DNA testing?
- How do I order a paternity test?
It is important to remember that under UK Law, a DNA test cannot be carried out without the written consent of all adults taking part in the test.
For children under the age of 16, consent must be provided by an adult with parental responsibility. In the UK, the mother of the child has consent automatically. The father has consent if he is either:
- Married to the child’s mother
- Listed on the birth certificate (after a certain date, depending on which part of the UK the child was born in)
What is a peace of mind paternity test?
A peace of mind DNA paternity test can prove paternity by analysing DNA from the alleged father and comparing it to the child’s DNA.
Every person inherits half of their DNA from each of their biological parents, so such a comparison can help us to establish the probability of paternity.
An AlphaBiolabs peace of mind paternity test looks at up to 42 DNA markers to identify which half of the baby’s DNA is inherited from the alleged father.
When testing the biological father of the baby, both will share identical sections of DNA at each marker. When the tested man is not the biological father, this is not the case.
As the name implies, a peace of mind paternity test is done purely for your own information and cannot be used for legal matters.
Can I do a paternity test without the mother’s DNA?
An AlphaBiolabs paternity test is performed without the mother’s DNA. You will still receive a conclusive result.
This is because by collecting cheek (buccal) cells from the alleged father and the child, we are able to analyse and compare DNA markers to determine which half of the child’s DNA is inherited from the alleged father.
Do I need the mother’s consent for a paternity test?
In the UK, this means that they must either be married to the child’s mother or listed on the child’s birth certificate after a certain date (depending on which part of the UK the child was born in).
In this instance, a mother must give her consent for children to have a DNA test, but the court can override any refusal if it considers that it is in the child’s best interest for the sample to be taken.
Can a mother refuse a paternity test?
A mother can refuse a peace of mind paternity test. However, as already mentioned, the mother’s permission is not needed to carry out such a test, provided her DNA is not being submitted for testing and the alleged father has parental responsibility for the child being tested.
There are many reasons why a mother might refuse a paternity test. They might be hesitant about the process and the implications involved or they may be uncooperative because they simply do not want the father of the child to be involved in their upbringing. Relationships may have broken down, the parents may have started new relationships, or the mother may have identified another potential father figure for her child.
The fact remains that while it is usually easy to identify a child’s mother, only scientific DNA testing can confirm paternity and name an individual as the biological father.
In any case, the Human Genetics Commission, and the Department of Health & Social Care both recommend that the mother should at least be aware of the paternity test if not directly involved.
Regardless of who is instructing the paternity test, written authority is needed from any adult whose samples are provided for DNA testing, and it is a criminal offence to take such a sample without consent.
If the mother refuses a paternity test on a child for legal reasons, a court can order that a test be performed.
What can I do if the mother is refusing a paternity test?
As mentioned, if the alleged father has parental responsibility for the child being tested, then the mother’s consent is not required to perform a paternity test.
However, establishing paternity of a child can be important for many reasons other than peace of mind. The potential father may want to know if the child is his so he can establish a relationship with the child.
Paternity also has implications for financial support and inheritance rights.
On the other hand, a man may be asked for child support for a child that he does not believe is his. Even if a man disputes paternity, if he has been named by the mother as the father of the child, he will have to pay child maintenance until DNA testing proves otherwise.
In all these instances, a mother may refuse a paternity test.
A legal paternity test is required to stand as evidence in court, which can be useful for child custody arrangements or child maintenance disputes.
What is the difference between a peace of mind paternity test and a legal paternity test?
Legal paternity tests are performed in the same way as peace of mind paternity tests – using DNA taken from cheek (buccal) swabs) – but must be performed under specific conditions known as chain of custody.
In other words, the DNA sample does not leave the custody of those who are legally responsible for ensuring the authenticity of its results. These legal tests can still be done in your own home, but a sample collector would need to attend.
AlphaBiolabs is accredited by the Ministry of Justice and has its own nationwide network of trained sample collectors. After the samples are collected, these trained collectors will ensure that the samples are safely delivered to our UK laboratory, where the test is then carried out to provide a report that can be used in legal proceedings.
Legal samples can also be collected free of charge at one of our walk-in centres.
Who can request a legal paternity test?
Anyone with a ‘sufficient personal interest’ (including the Child Maintenance Service – formerly the CSA) can apply to the High Court, a County Court or a magistrate for a declaration of parentage.
There are several pieces of key legislation which determine how courts approach disagreements between parents about their children.
The main one is the Children Act 1989. It has been updated by subsequent Acts of Parliament, most notable the Children and Families Act 2014, but remains the most important part of the law for separated parents.
The court may issue a direction that DNA tests are performed to determine parentage. The consent of a child under 16 years old is not required, only the consent of the person having ‘care and control’ of him or her.
If that person does not consent, then the court may arrange for the sample to be taken if it considers doing so would be in the child’s best interests.
In other words, a mother could be forced to undertake a paternity DNA test.
If the child has expressed feelings about taking a paternity test that go against the parents’ wishes, further legal advice may be required.
Why is consent needed for DNA testing?
If you do choose to proceed with a paternity test, you need to be aware that it is a legal requirement for all parties being tested to agree to the test. That includes any adult whose DNA samples are going to be submitted for testing.
It is illegal in the UK to undertake a DNA test without the tested person’s consent.
The Human Tissue Act 2004 covers England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. It regulates activities concerning the removal, storage, use and disposal of human tissue for several scheduled purposes such as research, transplantation, education, and training.
Section 45 of the Human Tissue Act includes a section on the non-consensual analysis of DNA. It 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 therefore applies UK-wide.
Penalties of up to three years’ imprisonment, a fine, or both, are provided in the Acts as a deterrent to failing to obtain or to misusing consent.
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.
AlphaBiolabs takes data security very seriously and all our DNA testing is 100% confidential. All DNA paternity samples are destroyed after three months, and all identification paperwork (hard copy and electronic files) is destroyed after 12 months.
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.
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