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When can a paternity test be wrong?

On Behalf of | Feb 11, 2022 | Family Law

If you are told that you’re the father of a child, you may not be sure that you are right away. You may not think that dates line up right for you to be the father or that the child doesn’t look like you enough to be. Regardless of why you have concerns, it’s a good idea to pursue a DNA test.

This test is normally accurate, but did you know that a paternity test could be wrong? While the test itself is accurate around 99% of the time, there is a potential for the results to be inaccurate under some special circumstances.

Fraud is a common cause of incorrect DNA test results

Most of the time, incorrect test results are linked to fraud. For example, a known child of the father may have their cheek swabbed rather than the new baby to make sure the baby comes back as his. This kind of fraud is less likely if you make sure that all parties are swabbed at the same time and in the same location.

Paternity tests can also be wrong in cases where a father is an identical twin or triplet. There is a potential, because his DNA is the same as his siblings, that all could be identified as the father. This is troublesome in some circumstances, such as if the mother has dated both siblings.

Sometimes, the test will show that a man is the father even though it’s actually one of his relatives who is. Since DNA tests don’t look at all parts of the DNA, there is a potential that enough DNA markers will overlap to provide a false positive. Brothers are most likely to have this happen, but it may also occur with fathers and their sons or uncles and their nephews.

If you believe a DNA test is inaccurate, you can ask for a more thorough test

DNA tests can include more markers in special cases rather than relying on the standard test. For twins or triplets, for example, it’s possible to check additional DNA markers that may have changed over time. Usually, identical twins will have the same DNA to start with, but mutations will occur individually to help tell them apart. If there is a question about paternity, then the traditional 15 or 20-piece DNA test may be increased to billions of pieces, essentially sequencing the genome and helping resolve confusion.

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