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Why Consent Matters

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Whether you’re taking your paternity test for peace of mind, or the court has ordered you to be tested, everyone involved in your case that has to give a sample must also give consent. In many cases, a test is ordered by the courts because one party has refused to take part in a paternity test, in which case consent is only required from those people who aren’t the subject of the order.

The Human Tissue Act

The issue of consent from all tested parties is central to any DNA test. The UK is one of the very few countries to have a law which regulates how human tissue is used and tested as well as regulating how individuals give consent to their DNA or any tissue from their body being used. New Zealand too has a Human Tissue Act, but unlike the UK Human Tissue Act, the law in New Zealand concerns itself more with post-mortem tissue. The UK Human Tissue Act requires anyone who takes part in a DNA test to give their consent in writing, thus authorizing the test. Not doing so would constitute DNA theft and carries heavy penalties. With regards to a parental or relationship test, anything from blood, hairs, nails, toothbrushes etc would need consent for testing from the person from which these samples have been collected. Here is a just a short list of alternate DNA sources that can be used in testing.

Consent From the Mother

In most cases, a paternity test will require consent from the mother for a DNA sample to be taken. This makes the testing process much easier, because the test can eliminate the matching mitochondrial (maternal) DNA, leaving just the father’s DNA to match.

Consent From the Child

A DNA sample must be taken from the child so that the paternity test has something to match with the alleged father’s DNA. In this case, consent needs to be given by whoever has responsibility for the child. This could be the mother, the father, an appointed guardian or trustee, or a representative of the authorities, if the child is currently in care.

Consent From the Father

A paternity test requires consent from the alleged father. This allows a sample to be taken for matching with the DNA from the child. If more than one alleged father exists, there will need to be two tests, or two samples from the child and mother in order to make matching easier.

It’s important that all parties consent to take the test, so that no person’s rights are violated. That’s why testing bodies send out standard consent forms with their sampling kits, or ask for written consent before a sample is taken. Consent protects those being tested as well as those doing the testing.  Our Frequent Questions also give more information about consent.

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