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Published On: Thu, May 24th, 2018

Taking the right test: Home vs Legal DNA Testing

In recent years, thanks to a handful of companies dedicated to helping you build your family tree, DNA testing has become extremely popular. With easy to use, at-home kits, you can now determine your heritage. However, DNA testing can provide you with so much more. DNA testing uses specific laboratory methods to look at your genes and can be used to identify if you have an increased risk of particular health problems, which treatments will work best, and to assess your body’s response to medications, explains the National Human Genome Research Institute. One of the biggest misconceptions about the testing of DNA is the “legal” option.

DNA double helix photo by This image was released by the National Human Genome Research Institute, an agency part of the National Institutes of Health

Legal DNA Testing

When it comes to DNA testing, a “legal” test is one that can be used as evidence in a court of law. A legal DNA test is one that is administered by a third party through what is known as chain-of-custody documentation. This documentation is what makes the results obtained admissible in court. If you need to establish your DNA for any kind of legal matter, like child custody, immigration, or inheritance claims, you will have to pay the money for a legal DNA test. All legal DNA testing results are notarized and can be used for any lawful purpose.

Home DNA Testing

If you are looking at DNA genetic testing for nothing more than your own curiosity, you can use a home DNA test kit. You will receive the same results as you would if you paid for a legal analysis, but the results will not be allowed to be used in court as evidence.These kinds of tests are frequently advertised online, with most companies providing a “do-it-yourself” kit if you don’t want or need to use the results in a court of law. You can at no time convert these tests can to a legal analysis, so if you need one for legal purposes, later on, you’ll have to purchase a legal test. The only difference is that the collection process wasn’t performed by a third party through photo documentation and chain of custody.

Things to Keep in Mind

Not all labs are created equal, and when it comes to DNA testing, you get what you pay for, so you need to make sure that the company you choose to analyze your DNA is certified by the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment, warns WebMD. This is the organization that is responsible for establishing the quality standards to ensure lab testing is accurate, reliable, and completed promptly. Overnight pop-up labs can provide you with incorrect and inconclusive results due to poor quality tests or minimal testing. Minimal testing can result in low matches, which can yield inconclusive results, and labs are under no obligation to disclose this information to you.

When it comes to DNA testing, whether you are looking for at home testing or test that you can use in a court of law, it is essential to make sure you are selecting a reputable company. Make sure you do your due diligence and research the companies you are considering to ensure you are getting the most accurate results from your tests.

Guest Author : Trisha Clark is a New York-based writer who specializes in writing about finance and family law. She attended Sarah Lawrence college, where she earned her Bachelor’s in Psychology. Today, she spends her days playing with her young son and helping families navigate the family court systems.

About the Author

- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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