To alleged fathers the most important question is determining whether or not to get a chain of custody test or a non-chain of custody test. Making an incorrect decision, could cost a lot of money in the long run.
First of all let me discuss chain of custody testing. Chain of custody testing is also known as legally admissible DNA testing. It is called chain of custody because during the sample collection process and testing process, the DNA samples follow a strict and documented chain of custody. The sample collector, verifies all tested parties’ identification, takes photo’s and has each tested party attest to their identity. The samples are then shipped to the lab via UPS or FedEx with a documented tracking number which when it gets to the lab is noted and the samples are then processed. Every person who handles the sample at the lab records the fact that they handled the sample to ensure that the chain of custody is not broken. These results can then be used in any court in the country to prove or disprove paternity when it involves, child support, birth records, adoptions, etc. These tests generally are priced in the neighborhood of $350-$550 depending on the laboratory. Due to the level of documentation and photos taken of tested parties, you can be assured that the correct individuals are being tested.
With non-chain of custody testing, typically refererred to as a Home Kit, the cost of the test is less expensive but the risks are higher. The most important thing to realize with a non-chain test is that the test is only as accurate as the parties that were tested. In a non-chain DNA test, the tested parties are not verified and documented and no photos are taken. If you believe that the mother may possibly pull a switch and swab a different child, or if you believe that the alleged father will swab one of his friends, this may not be the test for you unless you personally watch the samples being collected to ensure that the right parties are being collected. Non-chain tests cannot be used in court for this very reason. Without documentation, the court cannot be assured that the correct individuals were tested. Therefore non-chain testing is only good for “peace of mind” testing when there is no chance that any legal proceedings will come up as a result of the test. Non-chain testing prices typically run in the neighborhood of $69-$250. This is a “buyer beware” type of test, because unlike chain of custody testing, non-chain tests can be performed by non-accredited laboratories who may have questionable standards. The labs offering the lower priced tests are usually these non-accredited labs who use price to gain business from unknowledgeable customers.
When shopping for a DNA test, it is always best to shop around. There are many DNA Labs and resellers out there that are well respected and offer a quality test.