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What is the difference between "Home" and "Legal" DNA Testing?

Legal DNA testing

Results of formal DNA tests are guaranteed to be admissible any U.S. court of law due to the verified "chain of custody" and because the lab is AABB accredited. The chain of custody refers to the various chain of "hands" that the individual sample passes through. A legal chain of custody requires the samples to be collected in the presence of a third neutral party at a lab or hospital facility where all parties are photographed, and often fingerprinted, to verify their identity. The higher the number of genetic markers tested, the greater the probability the test results will be accepted without being contested.

Many consumers use the results from a legal test for a birth certificate change, social security benefits, or to resolve a legal issue.


 
Home DNA testing

Results from self collected DNA tests are normally not admissible in a court of law due to the lack of the "chain of custody, and therefore no proof of who the DNA samples belong to. In some cases, with very inexpensive testing, shortcuts may be taken in the processing of these tests, or individuals without proper education may perform the testing, in order to cut costs. No home test should be considered unless it is verified that it is processed the same way, using the same set of standards, that a legal test is administered with.

The results of a self collected test or a test without a valid chain of custody will have the following similar disclaimer (varies from lab to lab). "Paternity screening test results cannot be used in a court of law."


Which is better?

In our opinion, it might be best, if you can afford it, to have a legal DNA test performed rather than a home test. This prevents having to retake the test at a later time should you need a legal test, is usually guaranteed accurate. ALWAYS ask about additional cost, such as collection costs of the samples, postage and shipping fees, additional fees for results, etc. You might be surprised how much these "hidden" fees can add up.
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