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Do-It-Yourself DNA Paternity Test Kits Hit The Shelves

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Last week, The Telegraph reported that fathers who have doubts over paternity of their children will soon be able to buy an over-the-counter DNA test to check.  The kit costs £30 and contains swabs to collect saliva samples from the father and the child.  Once collected, the samples are sent to a laboratory in New Mexico for analysis, which costs an additional £119.  UK consumers can already buy the kit over the internet and the product has been available over-the-counter in America since late 2007.  Based on retail sales there and internet sales here, distributor International Biosciences expects UK retail demand for the kits to be "immense."

Moral & Legal Ramifications

Critics of DIY paternity tests believe they contribute to a "culture of suspicion" and cause heartbreak for rejected children.  But, Ian Meekins, CEO of International Biosciences, says the product "offers consumers a quick, convenient and affordable solution that doesn't require any courts, doctors or solicitors."  "It's aimed at everybody ... We have ladies who aren't sure who the father of a child is, and there are chaps who want to find out.  We don't stand as moral guardians and we don't judge.  We just give people factual information." 

"From a legal point of view a parent, someone who has responsibility for a child, can collect their DNA and provide it to us up to the age of 16," he added.

However, courts will not accept the test results as proof of paternity.  Only a few laboratories are to perform DNA paternity tests for courts in the UK.  The labs must follow strict procedures, from taking the samples to reporting the results, and maintain a continuous "chain of custody" to ensure the tests are accurate and reliable.

Compliance with the Human Tissue Act 2004 is also a key concern, since "DNA theft" is now punishable by a prison sentence of up to 3 years and/or a hefty fine.

Additional Information & Advice

You can obtain additional information about family law matters on .

Depending on your circumstances, however, you may want to speak with a solicitor who specialises in .  You can be in your area for free via solicitor matching services, which can also help you to understand the best course of action and whether you are ready to hire a solicitor.

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