Whether you require evidence to prove paternity status, or perhaps to legitimize your connection to a family member in order to receive your rightful inheritance, a DNA test is probably your first port of call, and rightly so.
If you’ve ever watched an episode of Jerry Springer or Maury, however, you’ll know how life-changing and dramatic this process can be, so it’s important not to take this lightly.
Legally speaking, too, there is a strict and rigorous procedure in place.
For example’s sake, we’re providing five of the best possible legal DNA tests, whether you’re determining the true father of your child, or receiving confirmation that the people you’ve been calling Gram and Grandpa are the real deal!
We can’t understate just how important it is to follow the instructions here, especially if you’re looking for evidence that’s legally admissible in court. Please thoroughly read our Buyer’s Guide before you make your purchase. Trust us on this one.
For any remaining queries, worries, doubts, or concerns, have a look at the Frequently Asked Questions section, which you’ll find towards the end of our article. We’ve offered answers to common inquiries in the hopes you’ll find yours there too.
Need To Know Right Now? Here’s Our Top Pick:
OUR TOP PICK
Promising to test for over 24 different genetic markers, including the gender identification marker amelogen, My Forever DNA promises to offer the greatest accuracy attainable, for your confidence and peace of mind.
Included in your purchase are any and all fees, so there are no hidden charges to surprise you, as well as postage - the kit provides everything you need to test one child and one alleged father.
Results are delivered confidentially and with discretion, and will be emailed to you between one and three business days of the lab receiving your kit, so if you do your test on a Monday you can expect to hear back before Friday!
With a contracted lab setup located in the US, as a company they hold several accolades, including AABB Accreditation, as well as participating annually in the College of American Pathologist Proficiency Testing, for a test you can truly trust.
Every single test result they issue is signed off by their Chief Scientific Officer who has over fifteen years of experience, and any issues can be resolved with ease thanks to the excellent customer service provided by phone or email.
- 99.99% accurate according to 24 dna marker tests
- Accredited by AABB and annual CAP Proficiency Testing
- Results in 1-3 business days via email
- All lab fees and shipping costs included
- Paper envelopes used to store swabs could contaminate sample if not used correctly
With all of their testing performed by an AABB and ISO 17025 accredited laboratory, the DNA Direct Home Paternity Test kit is one of the most reliable, despite also being one of the most simplistic and painless methods.
Testing for 22 genetic markers means, they assure, you can expect 100% accuracy (though of course, no DNA test can purport to achieve this), with your results turned around in as little as two business days, sent through email.
The kit utilizes pain-free cheek swabs, so that you might take a sample stress-free in the comfort and privacy of your own home, and is especially useful when testing the paternity of smaller children who might not understand the situation.
Shipping in discreet packaging for those who value their privacy, it’s a professional and confidential service that takes care of its users, with a phone number and email included in the initial package should you need to get in touch.
In spite of being quite affordable when compared to other DNA testing kits on the market, customer reviews seem to suggest this does not impede on the quality or reliability of the test. It isn’t too good to be true!
- “100%” accurate testing of 22 genetic markers
- Uses pain free cheek swabbing method
- Discreet packaging when mailed out
- Results in as little as two days, via email
- Cannot be sent to New York addresses - New York State law requires residents to obtain a court order or consult their family doctor in order to perform a DNA test
Swearing that they will never farm out their testing services to third-party labs, HomePaternity promises their US based facility can simultaneously deliver accurate results and effectively safeguard your private data from potential breaches.
Every test is performed twice as an extra measure of assuring accuracy, as well as several other processing safeguards as each is conducted. All fees are included, with no hidden costs, and free sample-shipping back to the lab!
Each kit includes testing for one child and one potential father using painless cheek swabs, though for an additional fee you can test more individuals. The secondary kit to do so can be ordered once you’ve registered your first one.
Offering a truly personal service, their genuine and caring customer service team will notify you as soon as your sample is received, and access to your report of results via their secure online portal occurs in just one or two business days.
With over 25 years of experience in DNA paternity testing right here in the USA, their state-of-the-art lab has been built specifically for this purpose, which is how they are able to offer this testing procedure at such an affordable price!
- US based lab that never utilizes third-party testing
- Every test performed twice for accuracy you can trust
- Personalised customer service and notification of each step of the process
- More individuals can be added to the testing process for an added charge
- Results can only be received via the mail for an additional fee
With more accreditation than any other competitor, the Rapid DNA Paternity Test is certified by AABB, CLIA, CAP, ISO/IEC by ANSI-ASQ, the National Accreditation Board and FQS (whew!) to offer the most legally reputable test on our list.
Rest assured that your data is stored securely and confidentially, with access to your results using an encrypted online system, aiming to deliver the most reliable, meticulous service on the market.
Accuracy is guaranteed, as every sample undergoes Dual Process testing, run twice by different lab teams to ensure the most precise results. They promise you will either receive clear results or your money back, no matter what.
After only two business days following the receipt of your testing kit, you’ll be receiving your answer, and there’s no need to get stressed, as you’ll receive email and text notifications throughout every point of the procedure.
Should you have any questions about the process, however trivial, you can get in touch with their friendly customer service team over the phone or via webchat, Monday through Friday, from 8am to 9pm.
- The most accredited DNA testing service in the USA
- Biological mother’s participation optional but test included
- Encrypted web access to your results, with text/email notifications
- Results or your money back, every single time
- Reviews suggest the testing kit instructions could be clearer
If you want to be certain of your grandparentage, or that of a relative, you can take advantage of this highly accurate test from My Forever DNA, promising to investigate 46 genetic markers, double that of the competition, for the most specific results.
Everything you need to perform the test is included, with additional extra materials should the mother or an additional child wish to be involved (though a fee must be paid and you should contact their office for details of instigating this process).
Once your sample is received at the lab, you’ll receive an email to acknowledge this, and then expect to find your results out in the next two to three business days, via an attached, full color, printable PDF report.
You are encouraged to get in touch with their customer service team, whether by phone or email, if you have any questions or concerns, as they would be more than happy to assist you with the process!
As a United States based company, much with their paternity testing, My Forever DNA is AABB accredited as well as approved by the CAP Proficiency Testing system, with all results signed off by their Chief Scientific Officer before being sent.
- Tests for 46 genetic markers - double that of the competition
- Results in two-three business days via an email
- No hidden fees or postage costs, everything is covered
- Exceptionally friendly and functional customer service team
- More expensive than some of the other less credible companies
Best Legal DNA Test Buying Guide
At-Home Versus Legal DNA Tests - What’s The Difference?
So, here it is, that huge important rulebook we’ve been talking about. Let’s get into it.Whilst the tests performed at home are no different to the legally permissible models, it’s the way they are conducted that differentiates and is important.
Otherwise referred to as ‘chain-of-custody’ tests, they are valid and defensible for use in court cases regarding child support, visitation, custody and adoption within any Superior Court in the United States.
Likewise, they can also be accepted as proof of paternity by other governmental agencies, for instance by the IRS for the sake of tax or via the Social Security Administration so that they might deliver survivor benefits to a widow or widower.
If you opt to perform an at-home test by yourself, this can not be used in a legal setting, nor can it be altered or upgraded to a legal test in the future. The samples collected do not meet the chain-of-custody requirements.
Attaining a legally admissible test requires several steps, which we’ll walk through now. If any of these steps are performed incorrectly or skipped, it’s likely that the courts will reject your DNA sample, so pay close attention!
Step One - Collecting Your Sample
First things first, a genuinely independent and third party professional must be present to take the sample for you. Likewise, said professional must be able to verify the identity of yourself or whoever is being tested, with a legitimate form of ID.
In certain states, you may be able to hire an independent third party to watch you collect the sample using an at-home kit and appropriately transfer it to the legally approved or appointed laboratory, but this depends where you live!
Step Two - Sending The Sample To A Lab
Following the collection of your sample, a second third-party approved by the courts must then ensure that it is securely and correctly shipped to the lab where the testing is performed, the part of the process specifically referred to as chain of custody.
The court in question will carefully observe the chain of custody process in order to determine whether or not the sample was collected, transferred and received by the lab by an appropriate third party at every single stage.
Step Three - The Big Test
This is the part of the DNA testing procedure you truly have no part in, besides verifying with the judge of your case or legal counsel that the organisation (or person) coming to collect, transport and test your sample will be admissible.
This is where accreditation is very important: without those all important certifications from the appropriate DNA testing authorities, it’s highly unlikely that any court would accept their test as legally admissible evidence.
Step Four - Results And Ruling In The Courtroom
Last but not least, the test must be properly submitted to the court, following the correct channels. If the results are sent directly to you, you must provide the court with all of the paperwork you received.
It’s likely that a scan, photograph or copy of the results won’t be accepted - double check with your lawyer about whether or not you need to provide the original documents in order to have them accepted.
In all circumstances, it’s usually the easiest and most likely to succeed if you can have the lab send their documentation to the court directly and provide yourself or the recipient with a second, separate copy for your records.
Top Tips For Legal Success
Always, always, ALWAYS check with the attorney you’re using, the judge of your case or a legally recognized member of the court to ensure your testing intentions are valid and will be accepted as part of your case.
Retain your DNA sample for as long as you can, at the very least until your case has been settled. It’s likely that any opposition will try to contest your results or have them re-tested, so keeping ahold of it all is in your interest.
Remember that any tampering, foul play or illegitimacy when it comes to DNA testing is an illegal offence, especially serious when engaged in a court case. Don’t even bother attempting to cheat your way to success - you will fail!
Things To Consider
Yes, it might sound a little obvious, but ensuring you opt for a DNA test that is as accurate as possible will only serve to aid your process and guarantee results you can depend on. The more genetic markers they test for, the better!
Accuracy can also be determined by the amount of accreditation a company has. This basically refers to the authority and mark of authenticity issued by an official body, to demonstrate that their standards have been met.
Turnaround Of Results
Sure, DNA testing is not a process to be rushed, but finding out the paternity of your child, for example, is not a piece of information you want to sit around and wait weeks for. Receiving your results quickly is what you want!
The majority of services will promise to have your results back to you within a couple of business days, but it’s worth checking through reviews from other customers to ascertain how accurate their turnaround times actually are.
Where the majority of DNA testing kits available right now utilize the classic swabbing method, which is essentially pain free and only takes a couple of seconds to achieve, others might use different methodologies.
If you’re testing a young child or trying to be discreet about your collection, it’s advised to avoid the sort of tests that might use blood or hair samples in order to perform the test, as these can often be uncomfortable processes.
Depending on your preferences, you might be happy enough to receive your results through an email or by logging into a secure online platform, but those who aren’t technologically minded may rather good old fashioned snail mail.
Whilst some DNA testing companies mail out your results as standards, others will only send your results the old fashioned way if you pay an additional fee, so be wary of which service you go for if this matters to you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a DNA test be done with just the father and child?
Yes! In fact, the majority of paternity tests only require a sample from the child and the alleged father(s), as this can present a Possibility Of Paternity level as high as 99.99% or more if the tested man is in fact the child’s dad.
Sometimes, though, there isn’t a high enough of a match to declaratively state fatherhood, in which case the biological mother would be contacted to provide a sample for corroboration, in order to determine a strong enough result either way.
A test can still be performed if the mother will not agree to participate, and you don’t need her there in most cases for a conclusive result. It just means that the results will be slightly less determinate than they could be.
What could affect the outcome of a DNA test?
Whilst only your DNA itself can provide the answers you’re looking for, it’s possible to obtain an ‘inconclusive’ result, which usually means the sample provided for testing was not of a high enough quality to determine reliable results.
Paternity tests will only have one of two possible outcomes, which are either:
0% probability of paternity, which indicates the alleged father has been officially excluded from being the biological dad, and therefore not considered the father in the eyes of DNA testing
99% probability of paternity essentially means the opposite - an alleged dad has not been excluded from being the biological father, and is therefore officially considered to be, at least according to that specific DNA testing company.
This could be because you did not yield enough DNA for testing. In a paternity test, for instance, the DNA collected from the inside of a cheek for a sample can be too weak, or overshadowed by the presence of too much saliva.
Failing to follow the instructions for obtaining a sample, usually including rules like not eating or drinking for an hour (besides water) before taking the test, and avoiding smoking or brushing your teeth, can also contaminate your swab.
In rare cases, it’s also possible that there are genetic differences between the child and the alleged father in multiple genetic markers, which are the factors used for testing for a DNA relationship between father and child.
Will a home DNA test hold up in court?
Unfortunately, unless you’ve had a court appointed or approved third-party there to perform or observe your sample, as well as following the other steps of the chain-of-custody process as required, your test won’t be admissible.
Luckily for you, however, we’ve provided you with an incredibly easy to follow four step guide to this process in our Buyer’s Guide above! It’s worth noting, however, that you should usually just follow the advice of your case’s judge or attorney on this.
Failure to do everything according to not only the laws of your state but the legislation of your particular court will result in a rejection for evidence.
Don’t waste your money - just do things by the book!