What is DNA paternity testing?
DNA paternity testing is a complex scientific process, carried out on a simple mouth swab, which can positively identify relationships between people. Most commonly it is used to establish if a man is the true biological father of a child.
DNA paternity testing is also often referred to simply as a DNA test, a paternity test or DNA testing. It was developed by Sir Alec Jeffreys at the University of Leicester in 1985. Cellmark became the UK's first private DNA paternity testing laboratory in 1987.
DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) is the body's genetic 'blueprint'. It is a long thread-like molecule which carries the "genetic code" that determines our individual characteristics. DNA is found in almost all of the billions of cells that make up our body. Every child inherits a unique mixture of DNA from its parents so, except for identical twins, no two people in the world have exactly the same genetic code.
How does DNA testing work?
It works by detecting certain parts, or 'markers' in the DNA molecule that are known to vary greatly between unrelated people. Our tests compare the DNA at a number of these markers to determine if people are related.
The process is called Short Tandem Repeat (STR) profiling. STR profiling is a very sensitive DNA testing procedure that was originally developed for forensic analysis. DNA is extracted from the sample and a special enzyme is used to copy the genetic code at the relevant regions in the DNA. An STR profile is the result of, at minimum, 22 separate DNA tests.
How long will the test take?
Cellmark delivers a next working day DNA Relationship testing service - as standard - across our range of tests - including immigration and sibling cases. If your samples reach us by 10am we can get the test report to you by the end of the next working day!
Completing our online registration form will only take a few minutes, however you will still need to make an appointment to have your DNA sample taken.
Are the results conclusive?
When a mother, child and possible father are tested Cellmark's results will either show he is not the father or normally provide proof of paternity with a confidence level of 99.99% and usually greater than 99.999%.
We also carry out other types of relationship testing, for further details please contact our Customer Service team on 0800 036 2522.
Is the service confidential?
Yes, under the requirements of UK Data Protection laws, the service and results are confidential. Everyone who gives a sample or has PR for the child on the case is entitled to request a copy of the results. Results are not passed on to any third parties unless you request us to do so. In order to further protect confidentiality we do not discuss results of tests over the telephone.
How are the DNA samples taken?
You will need to make an appointment have your samples taken by a Doctor or a Nurse or a Cellmark trained sampler. At that appointment a mouth swab will be rubbed gently and painlessly on the inside of your mouth to collect a sample of cheek cells.
You will also need to complete a consent form at the surgery (please remember to take 2 passport style photographs of each person being tested to the appointment) and these and the sample will then sent to Cellmark by the surgery. If you elect to use Cellmark's sampling service (an extra fee will apply) our samplers will take photographs of the individuals to be tested at the sampling appointment.
How are the results analysed?
When carrying out a paternity test the DNA of the mother, the child and the possible father are compared using the latest DNA analysis technology. A child inherits half of his or her DNA from each parent, so every genetic marker in the child’s pattern should be present in either the mother’s or father’s DNA.
In the first example the test has identified two markers in the child’s DNA. One of the child's markers (11) has been inherited from the mother; the other (16) has been inherited from the father.
In the second example the alleged father does not share the marker (14) inherited from the true biological father and is therefore excluded from paternity.
How do I confirm who is being tested?
Two passport sized photographs and/or photographic ID of each person being tested must be presented at the sampling appointment. These can be used to confirm the identity of the person(s) being tested and are sent with the samples to Cellmark. If you elect to use Cellmark's sampling service (an extra fee will apply) our samplers will take photographs of the individuals to be tested at the sampling appointment.
In paternity cases all identification paperwork is held by Cellmark for a period of 1 year after which time the paperwork is destroyed in compliance with our registration with the Data Protection Act.
From what age can a child be tested?
The use of mouth swabs means that testing can be performed on a child of any age after birth. Some companies may offer pre-natal DNA testing but Cellmark agrees with the Human Genetics commission's view that knowing the identity of the genetic father of the foetus could significantly influence the decision whether or not to proceed with a pregnancy and therefore Cellmark does not offer pre-natal DNA testing.
What about Quality Control?
Our quality management system has met ISO standards since 1990 and our laboratory procedures are accredited to ISO9001, ISO17025 and ISO27001 and are subject to external monitoring. We are accredited by the Ministry of Justice as a body that may carry out parentage tests (otherwise called DNA Testing or Paternity Testing) as directed by the civil courts in England and Wales under section 20 of the Family Law Reform Act 1969 and we also adhere to the Human Genetics Commissions "Common Framework of Principles on DNA testing".
What other relationships can be tested?
In certain circumstances, when the relevant individuals are available for testing, it is possible to assess more complex relationships such as brothers and sisters (sibling testing) or grandparents and grandchildren. For more information on the range of testing options please contact our Customer Service team on 0800 036 2522.
How can I pay for the test?
You can pay for your paternity test with a credit or debit card via our online registration service. The service uses secure server technology to ensure that your data and all records of the transaction are protected.
If you would prefer not to pay online please contact our Customer Services advisors on 0800 036 2522 to register and pay for your test.
Will my DNA sample be safe?
The samples are sent to our laboratories in specially designed tamper-evident packaging. Once testing is complete and you have received the results, your DNA sample is stored securely for 3 months after which time it is destroyed.
In paternity cases all identification paperwork is held by Cellmark for a period of 1 year after testing is complete after which time it is destroyed in compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998.
Is help available after I get my results?
We do not give out or discuss results over the telephone, however we are pleased to answer written enquiries about your specific results and to talk through general issues relating to DNA paternity testing. Call our Customer Services team.
If you require further information, or your question isn't listed here, then please call one of our friendly, professional and confidential Customer Service advisors on 0800 036 2522, or send your question via email to email@example.com, or use our discrete SMS service.
Can I get Legal Aid?
Following the reduction in legal aid funding the Legal Aid Agency has produced a range of information to assist solicitors and individuals in establishing whether their case is eligible for Legal Aid funding and this can be accessed via the following web page - http://legal-aid-checker.justice.gov.uk/ we recommend you use this as a starting point before embarking on the complex process of applying for legal aid.
You can also pay for advice from a local legal advisor or solicitor – a number of firms are responding to the changes by offering fixed price services.
If you want to speak to us our friendly, professional, customer service advisors are here to take your calls on Mondays from 8.30am to 7.00pm and on Tuesdays to Fridays from 8.30am to 6.00pm. Or you can email us firstname.lastname@example.org or use our online chat or SMS services.
Register a new case
If you have already considered the implications of DNA relationship testing and are ready to register a new case then call us free on 0800 036 2522, and we can take your details and complete the registration over the phone.