Legal and Home/Peace of Mind Paternity Testing
There are two types of paternity test: legal paternity testing and peace of mind paternity testing. Depending on what the results of a paternity test are to be used for, interested parties need to choose between a peace of mind or a legal paternity test. Deciding which test is most appropriate is simple and the following is a good rule of thumb: when an individual only has some doubts and has no definite evidence that the alleged father is not the biological father of the child or children, a peace of mind paternity test is the recommended test. Legal testing is required when somebody needs to appear in court or plans to instigate a court case to prove or disprove paternity in order to change the father’s name on the child’s birth certificate, apply for custody or parental responsibility. The mother or Child Support Agency may request a legal test to claim child support – this is especially the case where a child is born out of wedlock and the presumption of paternity is hence not applicable. In some cases, the child may request the test if they have not been legally recognised as the legitimate offspring of their father. The results of a paternity test may help to establish their right to inherit property. Home or peace of mind testing is a sensible test to begin with as one can decide how best to proceed based upon the results of this test. In many cases, a legal test may not be warranted.
The Sample Collection
Samples for a legal and peace of mind test are collected using mouth swabs which enable a quick and painless DNA sample collection. The swabs are sent in a kit by the company carrying out the test. Interested parties (typically the alleged father, mother and child) need to rub the swabs inside the mouth, under the tongue and against the inner cheek for ten seconds. Following this, the swabs need to be left to air dry. The kit contains registration forms which also need to be completed and signed by each person taking part in the test (more information about required forms, samples and authorisation for DNA testing can be found under the Human Tissue Act section below). Once all the required steps have been completed the samples can be sent off for testing.
With legal DNA testing, the test participants do not collect their own samples. Rather they need to seek a third party person with no interest in the outcome of the case, known as a sampler, to collect the samples from them. The role of the sampler is extremely important in a legal test as he or she forms an integral part of what is known as the “chain of custody”. This “chain of custody” is a procedure which ensures that all samples have been collected in the correct way, that all documentation and procedures have been adhered to and further ensuring that that there is no alteration or substitution of samples. The kit is sent directly to the sampler, who physically collects all DNA samples from the test participants, verifies the identity of each and thus, confirms the provenance of each DNA sample. Once this is done, he or she is also in responsible for sealing the samples in their respective envelopes and sending everything off for testing.
Peace of mind paternity testing and legal paternity testing only differ in the procedure followed for the sample collection. The laboratory analysis follows the exact same procedure.
Accreditation and Legal Testing
There are some important international accrediting bodies which have accreditation programmes specifically aimed at DNA testing laboratories. One of the most widely known is ISO 17025 – this is a globally recognised laboratory accreditation that sets very high standards for these testing entities and translates into reliability and competence for those individuals seeking to do their DNA testing with such laboratories. However, for legal testing within the UK, the laboratory itself much be accredited by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). Not all companies offering legal paternity testing in the UK are accredited by the MoJ. The Genetic Testing Laboratories are however, one of the leading companies in the UK that offer testing that is accredited by the Ministry of Justice. The list of companies offering testing that meets the requirement of MOJ can be found on the HMRC website.
Getting a Legal test in the UK
The Genetic Testing Laboratories (GTL) offer fully accredited DNA testing services. GTL UK are accredited by the Ministry of Justice and legal test results can be used in court cases to support evidence of a paternal relationship. Results are ready and emailed in 4 working days. A notarised hard copy will follow within a week.
The Genetic Testing Laboratories has the most competitive pricing in the UK and currently offers all its clients a 10% discount on all DNA testing for 2014. Simply sign up by clicking here and enjoy reduced prices on any test.
HTA – The Human Tissue Act
The Human Tissue Act (HTA) was implemented in order to control the way is which any type of human tissue is used, removed or stored. DNA testing requires a sample of human tissue, whether this is a blood stain, finger nails, hairs or a sample collected by means of a mouth swab. In order to comply with the HTA, the person from whom the DNA sample has been collected must give consent to the test – the Human Tissue Act refers to this as “appropriate consent”. Laboratories cannot test any DNA samples that have not been authorised for testing by the person to which the sample belongs. Whilst adults must give their own consent, children’s DNA samples can be tested if an individual with parental responsibility signs for the test on behalf of the child.