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Paternity test when the father is deceased.

Paternity Testing After Death

Postmortem Paternity Testing

Can I do a paternity test when the father is deceased? The answer is that it depends on several things. 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. DNA results will confirm whether or not he is the biological father of a child. The DNA test is very easy to do. It only requires mouth swabs which are rolled on the inside of the mouth. After this it is sent to our laboratory for analysis.

It some cases the alleged father is no longer available 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.

Options For A Paternity Test When The Father Is Deceased

Several options are available for confirming if the deceased is the biological father. If it is possible to still obtain a DNA sample from the deceased, that is the best choice. If not, then you can also consider using a DNA relationship test. All DNA testing using a DNA sample from someone who has died must be a chain-of-custody, legal DNA 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: Paternity Test When No Autopsy Was Done

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). When 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. A funeral director can collect the sample and complete a chain of custody for this type of collection.

Scenario 2: Paternity Test If An Autopsy Was Performed

If an autopsy was performed by a licensed Medical Examiner (M.E.), they may have save a blood or tissue sample. If so, the next of kin can contact them and request a 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.