How Chain of Custody Works in DNA Paternity Testing

If there’s a legal question raised as to whether or not you’re the father of a particular child, you need to supply evidence to a court of law to either prove your own claim or disprove the claim of the child’s mother. The best evidence for either case is to submit to a paternity test that uses DNA comparison between you and the child; however, since this test and its results are to be considered legal evidence, it’s imperative that the chain of custody for the test is preserved.

Labs that perform DNA paternity tests that can be considered admissible in evidence therefore need to take very specific steps to stay on the right side of the law. It begins with ensuring that anyone being tested is identified properly at the time of sample collection. This can include taking pictures of those getting tested and verifying their driver’s licenses or other forms of identification. It also means that consent for testing needs to be obtained and documented from all of those involved in the testing – or at least the legal guardians of any children that need to be tested.

Once this identification and consent has been obtained, DNA samples need to be taken from each individual to be involved in the paternity test. These samples can only be collected by a professionally-trained third party that will document his or her involvement in the procedure in a truthful manner. This professional needs to ensure that the samples taken are labeled and packaged properly before they are shipped off to where the analysis will take place; the courier services used to ship the samples to the lab need to provide a receipt to the processing laboratory, and the transfer, testing and storage of the samples needs to be documented at all times by the lab itself.

Finally, the results of the DNA test need to include specific documents verifying that the chain of custody for these samples was never broken; all of this must be prepared properly by the lab before a court of law can sign off on the validity of the test results. It may seem an exhaustive number of steps to take, but when it comes to legal questions of paternity there simply cannot be any room for uncertainty on the part of anyone or anything.

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