A DNA paternity test is now the most commonly used method for determining the biological relationship between an alleged parent and their children. However, with so much depending on the results of a test, it is not unusual to have doubts about a partner cheating during the process, leading many to ask; how easy is it to cheat on a paternity test, and can this be avoided?

Are There Different Types of Paternity Tests Available?

There are essentially two types of tests available. The first is the Legal DNA Paternity Test. This is a test used when the results have legal bearing and therefore need to be as accurate and free from possible cheating. In these cases, the collecting of DNA samples is done in controlled environments with third party witnesses on hand to provide verification of the identity of samples. Usually, the testing will be done in the presence of a GP or a registered nurse. The samples are then sealed by the Sampler and sent off for testing with no further contact from anyone connected to the test.

The second test is the ‘At-Home’ DNA test, also known as the Peace of Mind test. This type of test is more common and can be ordered online with sample collection being done in the privacy of your own home.

How Accurate Are DNA Tests?

In scientific terms, paternity tests are now the most accurate they have ever been. A DNA testing laboratory that is properly accredited is able to provide a probability of paternity in excess of 99.999%, confirming a paternal relationship between child and alleged father and an exclusion of 100%.

However, a laboratory is only responsible for testing the samples it is given. It has no way of knowing if the given identity of the samples is correct. Many laboratories will state that any provided cannot be used in a court of law. The reason for this is the system for collecting samples. In a home DNA test since the parties are responsible for collecting their own samples this may give rise to the possibility for cheating. By submitting someone else’s DNA, a test would obviously result in a negative paternity reading.

In a legal DNA test however, the DNA test kit is sent to a third party for the collection of samples. Typically you would be provided the address of a local doctor’s clinic, where you would have your DNA samples taken by a medical professional, either your GP or a registered nurse. They would then be responsible for sending the swabs to the lab, thus ensuring no contamination or cheating can occur.

Can Cheating Be Spotted?

In cases where the samples submitted are of the wrong sex, the laboratory will question the samples. By testing the Amelogenin gene (nowadays a standard part of a DNA paternity test) they can confirm the sex of the donor. If someone has tried to cheat on a test by submitting DNA samples from a female, this will show up and of course the test will be invalid. The laboratory will also pick up DNA from an animal, so people swabbing their pets will also be found out.

Apart from these examples, however, it is still very easy to cheat on a home DNA test simply by submitting the sample of another person of the same sex.

How Do I Prevent Cheating Occurring?

If you are concerned that one party may cheat, here are some things you can do to ensure honesty.

*Take all DNA samples in front of each other and send off to the laboratory immediately, never leaving any items alone with one of the parties involved.

*For cases where it is not possible for all concerned parties to be together, have the samples taken in front of a neutral third party, i.e. a lawyer or a doctor, and have them act as witness to the identity of the samples.

*Order a ‘Legal DNA Paternity Test ’ and follow the chain of custody procedure required for the collection of the samples.

*In cases where the other party refuses to be tested, it is possible to begin legal proceedings to “force” the other party to participate. This is a more expensive and involved process and we strongly urge you to obtain legal counsel before taking this route.

Does This Occur Often?

Research shows that it is actually quite rare that a person will cheat on a DNA test. Most clients are genuinely interested in finding out the truth, however in the rare cases where cheating has occurred, the negative results have nearly always been challenged with the guilty party being retested and thus caught out. In cases where it is suspected that a party may cheat, there are always the above measures to provide peace of mind that no foul play has occurred.

Whilst there are always those who will try to cheat, in most cases, whether through science or common sense, the truth will always come out. The purpose of a DNA paternity test is to provide an answer to a child’s paternity, and it should be in the interest of all concerned to know the truth.

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