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Court Ordered Paternity testing in the UK

Updated on December 17, 2012

Information about DNA testing in the UK: legal paternity and court ordered testing. The two terms are often presented as being interchangeable- however, a legal

Legal paternity DNA testing and court ordered paternity testing are not strictly the same thing. There are certain requirements for a court ordered test and a court admissable test that are highlighted in this lens. The main focus in legal testing is the method of sample collection.

Sample collection for a legal DNA test
Sample collection for a legal DNA test

Testing for Parentage in the UK

Thinking of doing a legal parentage DNA test? Here is what you need to know

Paternity tests are sold across the UK. Everybody has access to the internet and most paternity tests are in fact sold over the net. Competition and demand has driven prices down so that today getting a DNA test done is not regarded as being costly.

There are two types of paternity tests. The peace of mind paternity test (although not everyone might quite agree that a doing a paternity test will lead to peace of mind) is done at home. You contact the DNA testing company and have a kit sent to your address. Open the kit and in it you find all needed to collect the DNA samples. You will find mouth swabs, instruction and consent forms. Rub the oral, sterile mouth swabs in the mouth of the test participants- there you go, you now have your DNA sample. Let the swabs dry and send them off for lab testing.

The legal DNA test offered by many DNA testing companies is carried out following a different procedure to an at-home test. The company you choose will explain and organize everything for you. However, although the legal paternity test done following the "chain of custody" as complaint to the UK law and its requirements, it does not mean that your legal paternity test result will stand in court.

For a legal test, the mother, alleged father and child all need to submit DNA samples. The mother needs to give her consent for the testing.

A court ordered paternity test is not a legal paternity test

Websites offering legal paternity testing mean that they provide paternity testing which conforms to the requirements needed in a court of law; the DNA testing follows a certain procedure which makes the results of the test cheat proof and these results can be presented in court. These tests that are purchased from online companies are not "court ordered" because normally, it is not a judge who has demanded the test. However, a court ordered paternity test will follow the exact same procedure in terms of sample collection and testing methodology as a legal paternity test.

To be more correct, we could actually say a legal paternity test is rather a paternity test that can be used for legal purposes or a paternity test with court admissible results.

In any court of law, a judge or magistrate overseeing the case may dismiss or not accept the results of a paternity test. It is ultimately up to the discretion of the authority in charge of the case.

Remember, for legal paternity testing in the UK, under section 20 of the Family Law Act your tester must be on the of accredited DNA Paternity Testing suppliers. Moreover, under section 20 of the aforementioned law, courts have the prerogative to order a paternity test so as to determine parentage of a child. The court order will not be necessary if all parties are willing to go ahead with the test.

The Ministry of Justice issued in 2006 a set or norms and directives which are essential for DNA testing wishing to offer legal paternity tests.

Amongst these directives are:

- The necessity for the lab to be accredited by ISO 170 25

- For court ordered tests, the Ministry of Justice must appoint the laboratories it wishes to work with

Paternity testing is not an easy choice. It can cause much emotional turmoil and grief to all the parties concerned. A GP may in fact recommend counseling. You may be able to get this on the NHS or perhaps seek private counseling.

Child Custody

Many cases that involve legal DNA testing are about child custody and child support. For those needing to go to court, arming themselves with some basic knowledge about the law can indeed help alleviate stress.

Video - Human Tissue Act - The relevance of this law to all DNA testing

Under the Human Tissue Act of 2004, it is unlawful to take any tissue sample (and thus a DNA sample) from any person without their explicit consent. The person to which the tissue sample belongs must be also made fully aware as to what exactly their tissue sample will be used for. Verbal consent is not enough - the person must give written authorisation. Whilst in other countries, it take a tissue sample from someone without informing them that this will be used for a DNA test. It is not possible to do this in the UK.

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