Can a Paternity Test be Wrong?

In short, paternity tests can be wrong. The World Net Daily reported that between 14% and 30% of paternity tests are fraudulent.

Next time you’re watching Jerry Springer reruns maybe just take the DNA test results with a pinch of salt. If you’re thinking about purchasing a paternity test, then you should definitely consider the top four factors which may cause them to show false results. 

To help guide you through your decision on whether a paternity test is the best option for you, we will outline everything you need to know. From false results to related candidates, we will show you how these can arise or be avoided. 

Can a paternity test be wrong

What is a paternity test?

Before we go through those reasons, let’s quickly speak about what a paternity test is.

A paternity test is a procedure that is used to identify a genetic relationship between a father and a child. It may shock you to know that 5% to 20% of children have the wrong man identified as their father on their birth certificate. 

All the candidates would need to do is take a mouth swab to collect a sample of their DNA. This type of test is non-invasive and quite easy to carry out. This is what makes it a popular, tried, and tested method.

The test is then analyzed by a team that compares the two genetic codes for similarities. Before carrying out the test, the candidate would have had to consent to take part.

Why should you do a paternity test?

As you know, identifying a child’s mother is a lot easier to do than a father. However, it is slightly different when it comes to identifying a child’s father in certain circumstances. These circumstances are classified as either personal or legal. 

Personal reasons for a paternity test mean that the family does not need the law to interfere. One situation could be if the mother has had more than one sexual partner around the time of conceiving.

When you determine the conception date, you must consider all sexual partners within 10 days on each side of that date. Establishing your child’s father can provide you with emotional and financial support.

Another personal reason could be the father putting his mind at ease. Maybe the named father is not confident that he is the father, so carries out a paternity test to seal the deal. This can calm any anxieties in your relationship so must be looked at in a positive light. 

On the other hand, legal reasons are a completely different ball game. These are usually carried out in court for issues such as child support and custody battles. If a father wants parental responsibility for their child then they will need to prove to the judge that they are the biological father. This is usually carried out when both parents cannot come to an agreement on certain aspects of their child’s life. 

If parents are separated or divorced, then the parent with the least custody should be making child support payments. If a man is not satisfied that he is the child’s father then he may request to carry out a paternity test before agreeing to make any payments.

Depending on whether the test comes back as a match, then The Child Maintenance Service will then work out what the payments should be. 

Reasons for an incorrect paternity test result

If you have suspicions that your paternity test has given an incorrect result, then there could actually be some reasons for this.

There are four main reasons which can contribute to a result being incorrect which we will discuss further below.

DNA Fraud

Who knew that this could be a thing? There are some sick people out there that will tamper with your paternity test results.

It is not a common thing to happen but you should definitely be aware of this issue if you are not happy with the way your test was carried out. If you are having a legal dispute, then either party may wish to alter the test result. 

How would they do this? We hear you ask. Unfortunately, some people may gain access to the results and manipulate them to match up with what they want.

For example, a mother wanting financial aid could gain access to produce a positive test result for the male candidate. Or a father may not be able to pay child support, or may not want to contribute so may manipulate the result to a negative to support his beliefs. 

DNA fraud is a nasty thing to do, whatever way you look at it. Especially, for your child who will grow up never really knowing their biological father.

If you are found out, it could be seriously damaging for you too. In 2019, a marketing executive was sentenced to six years in prison after he was found guilty of taking bribes and providing false DNA test results. If you think you are a victim of this, report it to your local police immediately.

Related Candidates

This is a super rare reason but it has happened in the past. A paternity test could produce incorrect test results if the two candidates are related. That probably sounds confusing, so let us break it down further for you.

If the child is fathered by Man 1, but the mother is claiming that Man 1’s brother is the father, then it may come back as a positive test. This is because Man 1 and his brother will have a very similar DNA sequence.

When analyzed with the child’s DNA, then the lab team will see some similarities. This could then conclude a match for the child and his uncle.

If this test is carried out for legal reasons, then more factors will need to be considered. It may even be required for both possible fathers to be tested for further clarification. 

Lab Errors

A more common reason your paternity test may come back incorrectly is simply lab errors. We must all remember that we are only human and humans do make mistakes. These mistakes vary from each DNA testing lab and could happen for numerous reasons. 

If a lab has recently taken on new staff then mistakes are more likely to arise. This is due to insufficient training methods carried out by the management team. Each lab should have training methods set out to avoid these errors from happening. 

Another reason a lab may be making mistakes is a large influx of tests to complete. If a lab team is overworked and doesn’t have the correct amount of staff on board then they could rush to analyze the tests.

This is especially true if labs have targets set out for their teams to hit each day. 

If you are unhappy with your service or think this could be the reason your test may be incorrect, then you should contact the company. If you raise these concerns early, then you will be able to rectify the issues promptly with the customer service team.

DNA Mutations

This may sound super confusing but DNA can get mutated. This happens more commonly as a man gets older, but it is quite a rare reason why a paternity test will come back with incorrect results.

If the sperm that reaches the egg contains a mutated DNA strand then it may cause the child’s DNA to test differently from the father’s. 

When we say that this is rare, we are talking about it happening every 1 in 100,000,000 times. As we have mentioned, this could occur due to natural causes such as aging. It can also happen due to environmental factors such as exposure to UV light and smoking. 

If you think this could be a reason why your paternity test may be showing incorrect results, then you should contact a paternity attorney to explore your options.


To wrap things up, paternity tests can show incorrect results. There are several reasons why they could show inconsistencies which we have highlighted in our above findings.

DNA fraud, related candidates, lab errors, and DNA mutations are all reasons that your paternity test could be wrong.

It is important to remember that if you do think that your paternity test results are wrong, then you need to contact a paternity attorney as soon as possible. Contacting a paternity attorney could help you find a solution to your possible incorrect results. 

A paternity attorney may ask the lab to carry out the test for a second time for further analysis. If you believe that the lab may be involved in providing incorrect test results, then your attorney may look for an alternative laboratory.

Please remember that DNA fraud is a serious offense that could result in prison time for the offender.

If you believe that your test could have been tampered with, you should report it to your local law enforcement. This will then be properly investigated and the paternity dispute will be resolved in court.