Paternity testing is the process of using DNA to determine whether a man is the biological father of a child or not. DNA is the genetic ‘fingerprint’ which is unique to each person and it can almost conclusively determine the paternity of a child. The availability of DNA testing services in South Africa now allows you to take DNA samples at home and submit it to a laboratory for verification of paternity.
The accuracy of paternity testing is almost 100% provided that samples were extracted correctly, handled appropriately and tested properly in a suitable facility.
These days most paternity testing involves using a sample from the mouth lining. However blood samples for paternity testing is also a possibility. These tests should be ordered by your doctor and will be conducted in a pathology laboratory that caters for this type of testing. Paternity blood tests are more expensive than oral sample tests.
Blood samples from both the child and alleged father are required for testing.
Home Test Kits
If you order a home kit for paternity testing, you will receive two sterile buccal swabs within sealed plastic containers. Read the instructions carefully and it will outline the exact procedure that you need to follow to extract suitable samples. It will also inform you of what foods and drinks should be avoided before testing.
The swabs should be quickly rubbed against the inner lining of the mouth and the cells of the buccal mucosa (inner lining of the cheek) are transferred onto the swab. This should be immediately placed into the plastic containers, labelled and sent to the laboratory. This process has to be conducted on the child and alleged father.
The lab will then extract the genetic material from these cells and compare the genetic ‘fingerprint’. By identifying similar genes, the laboratory will be able to confirm paternity.
Paternity Testing for Legal Purposes
Home paternity testing is not always admissible in court. If paternity is in question for legal purposes, like maintenance payments, then testing should not be done at home. Consult with your lawyer and a social worker who will then work with your doctor to extract the necessary samples. The samples will be sent to an approved laboratory which can provide results that will be accepted in court. Paternity testing does not guarantee the outcome of any legal battle and is only a tool to verify the identity of a biological father.