Can a Paternity Test Be Wrong

Put simply, a paternity test is done to determine whether or not the male is the biological father of the child. Sometimes it is done for legal purposes such as for child custody and child support. But there are also times in which it is done outside of the court. No matter the case, there is a question that is likely to be in the mind of anyone who is about to undergo a paternity test: can it be wrong?

Yes, a paternity test can produce the wrong results at times. The method used for analyzing DNA is guaranteed to be accurate. Instead, a paternity test can be wrong due to errors committed by accident or on purpose. They can be carried out by any of the concerned parties or at times, the DNA laboratory technician.

Because a paternity test involves DNA analysis, it seems as though it is the definitive way to establish or disprove the state of being someone’s biological father. Definitely, the method used for finding out the results is accurate.

However, along the way, there are things that may take place either unintentionally or intentionally that could have an impact on the results. It is for this reason why, in some cases, many are wary of undergoing paternity tests.

Different Ways Paternity Test Can Produce Wrong Results

Paternity test involves analysis of DNA through a meticulous process. But despite this, it does not mean right away that it always produces the right or expected results. It is true that it can determine if a man is the biological father of a child with 99.9% accuracy. Still, there are instances in which the results are not reliable.

There are actually 4 different ways for a paternity test results to be wrong, and let us take a look at them:

It can be tampered with

Perhaps you have already come across stories on the web wherein men who wish to spare themselves of constantly providing child support swab the mouth of complete strangers who are passed out at the local bars.

Especially if the paternity test is not court-ordered in which there are no third parties around to witness the completion of the paternity test kit, it can be easy to tamper with the results.

An error may be made at the DNA laboratory

In some cases, the DNA lab technician may change the paternity test results on purpose. There are also cases in which the DNA laboratory technician may make a mistake without his or her knowledge.

For instance, a laboratory tool that has the DNA of someone else may be used by the DNA lab technician by accident.

The man is related to the father

It is possible for a man to appear as though he is the father of a child if he is related to the actual father by blood. For instance, Peter is the biological father of the child, but the mother accuses Paul, who is the brother of Peter, to be the father.

The paternity test results may actually say that Paul is the father when, in fact, it is Peter who is the father. It can be blamed on the fact that the two of them share some DNA.

A mutation in the DNA can be the culprit, too

There are rare instances in which paternity test results are wrong because of DNA mutations. So, in other words, the presence of any DNA abnormality may cause the DNA of the child and father to look different from one another.

While it is true that the presence of a mutation in the DNA is uncommon, the fact remains that it can happen. For instance, health experts confirm that the older a man gets, the higher the risk of having DNA mutations in his sperm cells.

As you can see, paternity test results cannot be correct at all times. Various things, be it done on purpose or by accident alike, may have a considerable effect on the results.

The good news is that if the mother or father tampers with the paternity test kit, it is very much likely for it to be detected by the DNA lab technician.

For instance, the technician may notice that the DNA is that of a female when the child involved is male, according to the provided details.

Whenever this kind of tampering is detected at the DNA laboratory, the analysis is usually put to an end right away. More often than not, the parties involved will be asked to submit their specimen once more for results that are more accurate.

In order to minimize contamination risk, see to it that you refrain from eating, drinking, chewing gum, brushing your teeth, using mouthwash or smoking half an hour before you provide your cheek cells or saliva. Some paternity test companies even recommend for you to avoid doing any of them for a full hour. 

How a Paternity Test is Performed at Home

It can be very surprising to learn that a complicated procedure that involves analysis of DNA such as a paternity test can be done without any trouble.

In fact, it can be carried out in the comfort of your own home. Shelling out money for a paternity test kit is the first step that you will need to take in order to get started.

There are actually a number of things that can be taken to the laboratory for it to be examined. Just about anything from the body of a person that has genetic material in it can, in fact, be used for a paternity test.

However, these days, most paternity tests involve having the cells obtained from the inside of the mouth analyzed. A paternity test kit that you can easily purchase on the net, as well as offline, has a cotton swab in it.

Refrain from thinking that this is just like any other cotton swab that you can get your hands on, such as something that is a staple in your bathroom.

This is because the cotton swab that comes with the paternity test kit is sterile. So, in other words, it does not have bacteria or any other microbe on it that can contaminate the paternity test results.

The role of the cotton swab is to help you obtain cheek cells, which will then be analyzed at the DNA laboratory of your choice. In order to carry out this part, all you have to do is gently rub or scrape the cotton swab against the inside of your cheek.

To ensure that you will get enough cheek cells, move the cotton swab up and down. Make sure that you also rotate the cotton swab with your fingers.

But before you take the cotton swab out of its packaging, it is a good idea for you to first remove the cap of the plastic tube with a liquid. This tube is also included in the paternity test kit.

Such is recommended to make it so much easier for you to place the cotton swab inside it later on. Allowing the cotton swab to come into contact with anything once it has your cheek cells on it will result in its contamination.

The moment that the cotton swab is already inside the tube snap off the top end of the small plastic container. Shake very well and then place the tube inside the plastic bag provided.

Afterward, put the plastic bag inside the box or envelope that’s prepaid. All that is left for you to do is have it mailed to the DNA laboratory for testing.

As you can see, it is so simple to complete a paternity test kit at home. It is non-invasive and completely pain-free. Usually, it does not take more than 5 minutes for you to have a paternity test kit completed.

By the way, aside from cheek cells, it is possible for the one to be analyzed at the DNA laboratory is the saliva. And just in case cheek cells and saliva cannot be provided or obtained, that’s okay.

Blood, skin, hair, nails, and others with genetic material on them may be the ones used for completing a paternity test.

There are times in which a paternity test has to be done for legal purposes. The very same paternity test kit is used for this. However, there is one minor difference that we will talk about in a few.

Personal Versus Court-Ordered Paternity Test

Anyone who has money to spare can get a paternity test. In this day and age, such can be easily done on the net. This is true most especially due to the popularity of direct-to-consumer DNA tests offered by ancestry or genealogy sites. Needless to say, if you have the budget for it, a paternity test can be obtained without trouble.

However, it is important to note that a paternity test can be classified into two kinds. One of them is known as a “personal paternity test.” The other is known as a “court-ordered paternity test.”

Just like what the name says, a personal paternity test is carried out for reasons that are personal. For instance, a man may request one if he believes that he is not the biological father of the child.

Or a woman may request a personal paternity test if she is not sure if the person whom her child calls “dad” is, in fact, the biological father.

Do you have this suspicion that the man you considered as your father all your life is not the one who sired you? Then you may have a paternity test to know the truth once and for all.

This is not going to be a major issue because getting the test done is very easy these days. The problem is how you are going to explain to your “father” the reason why you want the two of you to have a paternity test. Indeed, this is something that can break his heart.

There are times in which a paternity test may be needed for legal reasons. This is when having a court-ordered paternity test steps into the scene. In a nutshell, the results of this kind of paternity test can be used as a piece of evidence during court proceedings.

There are all kinds of reasons why a court-ordered paternity test may have to be done. One example is if the father does not want to provide child support for he thinks that he is not the biological father.

A court-ordered paternity test may be done as well if the couple parted ways on bad terms, and then the woman wants to have the man removed from her and the child’s life for good.

All paternity tests are done at the DNA laboratory in the same manner. It does not matter if they are done for personal reasons or due to the order of the court.

The difference is in how the specimen is obtained. In a court-ordered paternity test, third parties such as medical experts and police officers are around while the cheek cells are being collected. Otherwise, the results of the paternity test will not be deemed by the court as a valid piece of evidence.

A personal paternity test, on the other hand, does not need the presence of third parties. However, it is a good idea for the collection of the cheek cells and the mailing of the completed test kits to be done together by those who are involved. This can help to see to it that there is no tampering with the test.

A Brief Look at Paternity Fraud as Well as the Consequences

It is quite common for a woman to be fully aware that the father of her child is not the biological father. There are instances, too, in which she is simply suspecting that someone else is the real father of the child. So, in other words, she is not sure who the biological father is.

But no matter the case, it is clear that the man is being misrepresented as the biological father of the child. It can result in devastation, most especially for the man should the truth come out one day.

Nothing can break his heart more than learning that he is not related by blood to the child that he has been raising and loving all of these years. Knowing that there is no DNA connection between the two of them can also lead to feelings of anger and betrayal.

Definitely, the man is a victim. That’s because it is evident that the years of emotional and financial investment were all a huge lie. Clearly, such was carefully orchestrated by the mother. This is true most, especially if she knew all along that the man is not the actual father of the child.

This is when what is known as “paternity fraud” steps into the scene. Put simply, it is a form of fraud that has something to do with paternity. And just like any other form of fraud out there such as credit card, health care, and insurance fraud, there are consequences to paternity fraud.

Some of those that may arise from paternity fraud include contempt of court as well as criminal charges. It is very much possible for the latter to take place, especially if there are major violations.

A man may complain of paternity fraud after learning that he is not the biological father of the child. Usually, this is done in his desire to stop providing support to the child.

Obviously, this kind of responsibility should be done by none other than the actual father of the child. The man who just realized that he is not the biological parent may want further child support payments to come to a halt. Similarly, he may also want for all of the money he shelled out for the support of the child to be given back to him.

Unfortunately, more often than not, the focus of the court is on the best interest of the child. It is for this reason exactly why it is possible for the man to be ordered by the court to keep on paying child support.

This is true most, especially if he has been supporting the child for quite a while now. The same may be ordered by the court if the man has been acting as the father of the child for already a long time.

Do take note that it’s not just the mother who can commit paternity fraud. If truth be told, there are a few other people who can be found guilty of it as well. Some of those who can also commit paternity fraud are:

  • A medical expert who deliberately tampers with the paternity test results.
  • A witness who falsifies his or her testimony during a court proceeding

Sadly, it’s not just the person who commits paternity fraud who may suffer the consequences. In the long run, the child, as well as his or her upbringing, may experience the repercussions, too.

A Look at Some of the Most Trusted Ancestry or Genealogy Sites

These days, it is virtually impossible for you to run out of ancestry or genealogy sites to choose from. If you want to learn about yourself more by knowing your relatives and uncovering your lineage, then having your DNA tested by one of these sites is a great idea.

Such may also be done if you would like to get clues on whether or not the person you are referring to as “dad” is your biological father.

When choosing which ancestry or genealogy site you should opt for, certain factors need to be taken into account. This is most especially true as each one of these service providers operating on the net has its own set of pros and cons. Some of the things that should be considered are your specific needs and available budget.

So let’s take a quick look at some of the most popular ancestry or genealogy sites out there:


One of the nicest things about 23andMe is that it offers a couple of paid services.

One of them is the ancestry service that allows you to build your family tree. The other one is the health plus ancestry service that enables you to know your lineage and also health risks based on problems concerning your genes.

Needless to say, the latter is more expensive than the former. As of writing, the health plus ancestry service being offered by 23andMe costs $199, while the ancestry service has a price tag of $99 only.


The biggest claim to fame of AncestryDNA is that it has the biggest DNA database among all ancestry or genealogy sites available these days. To date, its DNA database is said to have more than 10 million entries.

This is why this particular company is ideal for consumers who would like to get to know as many of their blood relatives as possible. For a one-time fee of $99, getting the DNA test kit from AncestryDNA can make it possible for you to know if your father is, in fact, your biological parent without the two of you getting a paternity test.

MyHeritage DNA

If you are on a tight budget, you might want to consider getting your DNA tested by MyHeritage DNA.

That’s because it will only require you to shell out $79. And if you are patient, you may keep on checking out the website of the service provider as from time to time, it brings the price down to as low as $59!

Unfortunately, the DNA database of MyHeritage DNA mostly consists of entries from Europe. So if you wish to know about your European relatives or suspect that your actual father is from Europe, you may give this affordable site a try.

Living DNA

There are a couple of reasons why Living DNA is kind of similar to MyHeritage DNA.

First, it has an asking price that is easy on the pocket — the starter kit is priced at $59 only. Second, it is more suited for people who would like to learn about their European ancestry as the DNA database of Living DNA is primarily made up of entries from Europe.

But what’s nice about this company is that it also has a well-being kit that costs $149. However, some consumers can’t help but confirm that they were provided with vague results.

Family Tree DNA

Many people are terrified of getting their DNA tested by ancestry or genealogy sites of today. This is because they fear that their DNA information may be used for all kinds of purposes without their knowledge.

Well, they have every reason to be alarmed because some of these sites actually allow third parties such as pharmaceutical companies and medical researchers to have access to their DNA database.

If your privacy matters so much, consider opting for Family Tree DNA as it believes that DNA should not be sold.


Let us first take a look at the strength of this ancestry or genealogy site. It is very good at providing you with pieces of information about the migration patterns of your ancestors.

So if your main goal for having your DNA tested is to have in-depth knowledge about your ancestry, give HomeDNA a try.

But going for it comes with a downside that is hard to miss, and that’s the fact that it does not come cheap — it costs $199 currently. That is a bummer, especially because the DNA results do not contain details that other companies are providing.

National Geographic Geno 2.0

If you are a sucker for human history, then you may be well-aware of what National Geographic is in its various forms, from a magazine to a TV channel. Well, the organization also offers DNA testing in the form of Geno 2.0.

If what you want is to learn about the history of your ancestors, it will be able to provide what you are looking for. Sadly, National Geographic Geno 2.0 has ended on March 31, 2019, but it will still conduct DNA testing of kits purchased before the said date.

As you can see, there are a wide variety of ancestry or genealogy sites available these days. Purchasing a DNA test kit from any of them makes it possible for you to discover whether or not your father is your biological parent.

However, unlike a paternity test, it is something that requires you to put your thinking cap and solve the puzzle. By the way, it usually takes ancestry or genealogy sites for about 6 weeks to release the results.

Sometimes it may take longer, especially if there are simply too many DNA test kits to process.

When choosing a site, it is a good idea for you to pick one with the most impressive database. This is because it can make it easier for you to have a complete family tree in the shortest amount of time possible.

Also, we highly suggest you choose an ancestry or a genealogy site in which many of your family members have had their DNA tested. This allows you to have more DNA matches, which is vital for cracking the clues.

If your goal is to find out the truth through ways other than a paternity test, it is generally a good idea for you to build the most comprehensive family tree possible on the ancestry or genealogy site of your choice.


DNA analysis, like that which is used for a paternity test, is highly accurate. This means that it is capable of producing results with impressive precision. However, it is still possible for it to yield the wrong results due to a few factors.

One of the most common of those factors is tampering with the paternity test. However, there are times in which it can be blamed on the DNA laboratory technician. Such can be the result of either carelessness or manipulation of the results. Health experts say that a defect in the DNA of the father may also affect paternity test results.

No matter the case, the results of a paternity test may be questioned or challenged. This is especially true if one or all parties involved believe that something is not right with the outcome of the test.

If a paternity test is used for legal purposes and doubts arise after the receipt of the results, it is possible for the test to be requested to be performed one more time.

However, it is important to note that a court-ordered paternity test has a low risk of producing the wrong results. Just like what was talked about above, it has to be taken with third parties around to make sure that no tampering can be committed.

Undergoing a paternity test these days is easy. There is no need for it to be ordered by the court. Individuals who would like to find out the truth about paternity issues may easily purchase paternity test kits on the web as well as at land-based drugstores.

There are lots of DNA laboratories these days where the completed paternity test kit may be submitted for analysis. So, in other words, just about anyone can choose to have a paternity test.

Of course, a paternity test can break hearts and also relationships. It is for the fact that it can reveal truths that can stir up feelings of being lied to or even betrayed.

And even if the test results confirm that the father is the biological parent of the child, still the act of undergoing a paternity test is grounds for compromising the relationship.

Having a paternity test, fortunately, is not the only way to determine whether or not the person you have been calling “dad” your whole life is, in fact, your father.

For instance, you may purchase a DNA test kit from one of the most trusted ancestry or genealogy sites out there. The more family members of yours that have had their DNA tested by the site, the better.

Such will make it easier for you to complete your family tree and find the answer that you are looking for.

Photo credit: ©Pexels

Ryan Sanders

Ryan Sanders is an aspiring genetics science enthusiast. His journey started with curiosity about his roots. He keeps learning more about genetics every day.

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