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Can I Do A Paternity Test If The Alleged Father Is Dead?

Can I Do A Paternity Test If the Father Is Deceased? The answer is “yes.”

DNA relationship testing is the most accurate method of confirming a biological relationship exists between two people. The most commonly used DNA test is a direct paternity test. In this test an alleged father’s genetic profile is created and compared to that of a child. The result will confirm whether or not he is the biological father of a child. The test is very easy to do, as it only requires rubbing swabs (buccal) on the inside of the mouth and sending it to our laboratory for analysis.

However, we understand that there are situations where the alleged father is no longer available for voluntary testing due to the fact he is deceased. Often, the first thought of those facing this situation is that paternity can now never be established conclusively. This would not be accurate.

There are a number of options possible for confirming if the deceased is the biological father of one or more children. It may be possible to still obtain a DNA sample from the deceased. If not, then you can also consider using a DNA relationship test. These DNA comparisons are similar to a DNA paternity test, but instead it uses DNA testing of close members of the family to confirm various types of relationships. The options include a DNA sibling test, a grandparent DNA test, or an avuncular DNA test with uses a uncle/aunt and suspected niece(s)/nephew(s).

In case of the death of a suspected father, lets look at three separate instances and what you can to do in these situations:

Scenario 1: If death has very recently occurred it may still be possible to collect a biological sample from the body (usually this period is not more than 3-5 days from time of death). If the body has been take to a funeral home, we recommended that a licensed funeral director tries to obtain (where possible) a mouth swab sample. If this is not possible, hair samples with root as well as fingernail cuttings may be able to be used. If the DNA test is wanted for legal reasons, a funeral director can also complete a chain of custody for this type of collection.

Scenario 2: If an autopsy was performed by a licensed Medical Examiner (M.E.), and either a blood or tissue sample was kept (which is more common that you may think), the next of kin can contact the M.E. and ask if they would release that sample for DNA testing. This is done using a chain of custody. We regularly work with this type of situation.

Scenario 3: In the event that the body has already been buried, samples may be obtained in an indirect manner – for example through a toothbrush, comb (might contain useful hairs), dentures, or recently smoked cigarette butts. These samples are all likely to contain DNA material that can be used to perform the test. However, success in obtaining DNA from such non-standard DNA samples depend on a number of factors most importantly the condition of the sample.

These are some of the most commonly used options available. Most importantly is the ability to obtain a DNA specimen from the deceased person that may contain DNA. The costs and difficulties in obtaining a sample in Scenario 2 may be higher than simply obtaining some hair or fingernails from the body. However, each case is unique and if you find yourself in this situation, we suggest you contact a Genetic Consultant at 1-855-362-5224 to discuss your situation in detail.

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