Last week, The Telegraph reported that fathers who have doubts over
paternity of their children will soon be able to buy an over-the-counter DNA
test to check. The kit costs £30 and contains swabs to collect saliva samples
from the father and the child. Once collected, the samples are sent to a
laboratory in New Mexico for analysis, which costs an additional £119. UK
consumers can already buy the kit over the internet and the product has been
available over-the-counter in America since late 2007. Based on retail sales
there and internet sales here, distributor International Biosciences expects UK
retail demand for the kits to be “immense.”
Moral & Legal Ramifications
Critics of DIY paternity tests believe they contribute to a “culture of suspicion” and cause heartbreak for
rejected children. But, Ian Meekins, CEO of International Biosciences, says the
product “offers consumers a quick, convenient and affordable solution that
doesn’t require any courts, doctors or solicitors.” “It’s aimed at everybody …
We have ladies who aren’t sure who the father of a child is, and there are chaps
who want to find out. We don’t stand as moral guardians and we don’t judge. We
just give people factual information.”
“From a legal point of view a parent, someone who has responsibility for a
child, can collect their DNA and provide it to us up to the age of 16,” he
However, courts will not accept the test results as proof of paternity. Only
a few laboratories are accredited to perform DNA paternity tests for courts in the
UK. The labs must follow strict procedures, from taking the samples to
reporting the results, and maintain a continuous “chain of custody” to ensure the tests are accurate and reliable.
Compliance with the Human Tissue Act 2004 is also a key concern, since “DNA theft” is now punishable by a prison sentence of
up to 3 years and/or a hefty fine.
Additional Information & Advice
You can obtain additional information about family law matters on FindLaw.
Depending on your circumstances, however, you may want to speak with a
solicitor who specialises in family law. You can be matched with a
solicitor in your area for free via solicitor matching services, which can
also help you to understand the best course of action and whether you are ready
to hire a solicitor.
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