Bringing a child into the world is an exciting time, but it can also be a worrying one. The financial and emotional strain a new child brings with it can create conflict and confusion for families across the UK. During these stressful times, it is best to understand the full facts of the situation to know how to start working towards any kind of resolution.
Determining the biological relationship between the child and its potential father is crucial for a number of reasons around the legal and financial rights and obligations of both parents. If there is conflict or misunderstanding on either side, then clarity in the facts is the only way forward.
If there is any doubt about paternity, then a DNA test can be done. Until recently, this could only be done once the baby was born. Thanks to medical advances, a test can be performed as early as seven weeks into the pregnancy. It is important to know how to determine paternity while pregnant if you are going to establish the correct environment in which your child is going to be growing up.
This guide highlights the key questions surrounding carrying out a paternity test while pregnant in the UK.
What is the legal situation?
Obtaining a sample for DNA requires consent and is covered by the Human Tissue Act 2004. Legally, the father needs to give his consent. Performing the test without the individual’s consent is considered a breach of law, which could affect any claims you make in a court of law. The results may be deemed inadmissible, and the onus may be reverted back to you as the one who ordered the test in the first place.
As a father contesting or looking to prove paternity, you obviously need the consent and cooperation of the mother. However, if the mother refuses a court order can be taken out to oblige the mother to comply with a DNA test.
How can you do a paternity test while pregnant?
A foetal DNA test is non-invasive and completely harmless to the unborn baby. A blood sample is taken from the mother in the usual way via the arm. As early as seven weeks into the pregnancy the blood contains free floating foetal cells, which are matched against the sample taken father the father.
The two samples are put through what is called Next Generational Sequencing (NGS), which is the method used for assessing the probability of paternity.
Does the DNA test on an unborn baby cause harm or stress?
Absolutely none at all. For the unborn baby, the DNA test is completely non-invasive. For the mother, it is simply a case of a regular blood test. The original way of extracting foetal DNA was through amniocentesis, which involved inserting a long needle to collect fluid for the placenta or amniotic sac. This method carried risk of miscarriage. This method is now no longer performed or recommended.
How long does it take to get DNA results?
Providing everything has been done correctly, you should get your results within two weeks.
How accurate is a prenatal paternity test
When your results come through, it will give you one of three responses.
- If paternity is confirmed, it will state this with a 99.9% degree of accuracy. This confirms that the individual who donating the paternal sample is the father.
- If there is no match, the donator is not the father.
- It is possible that the result comes back as inconclusive. This could be due to a number of reasons, including limited foetal DNA in the blood sample or even the possibility that there may be as yet undiscovered twins!
Once you have the results, you will have absolute confirmation that the individual is (or is not) the father. With a confirmed DNA test, the individual is recognised as the baby’s true biological father in the eyes of the law. However, this does not grant the father guaranteed access to any rights over the child. If there is conflict in the relationship you may want to seek mediation to establish parental boundaries which put the child first.
Are you seeking to determine paternity while pregnant? Ultrasound can walk you through the entire process confidentially and discretely. You can book a DNA test direct on our online booking system here, or give us a call on 0203 9607960 to talk it through with us in more detail.