DNA testing can take different forms and create complex legal and wider issues as a result of:
- A direct-to-consumer DNA test.
- Formal chain-of-custody DNA testing through a legally accredited provider (e.g. to confirm biological parentage beyond doubt).
- DNA/genetic testing for medical purposes.
Direct-to-consumer DNA testing
There are lots of different reasons for taking a direct-to-consumer DNA test through companies like AncestryDNA, MyHeritageDNA and 23andMe. They can be the result of:
- Receiving an at-home DNA testing kit as a gift for a birthday or Christmas.
- An interest in genealogy and curiosity to know more about personal ancestry and increase understanding about genetic legacy.
- A desire to construct family trees and trace birth parents, donors and genetic relatives.
- Answer questions or suspicions about family relationships and fertility fraud.
Formal chain-of-custody DNA testing through a legally accredited provider
Formal chain-of-custody DNA testing through a legally accredited provider can be used to confirm biological parentage beyond doubt. This can be used in a number of scenarios, to include:
- A paternity dispute (where biological and legal parentage and/or financial responsibility for a child is at issue).
- An order for DNA testing within an application for a Declaration of Parentage in the English Family Court.
- To support an application for citizenship/passport.
DNA and genetic testing for medical purposes
DNA and genetic testing can also be undertaken for a variety of different medical reasons, including:
- You or your doctor suspects that you might have a health condition caused by a change to one or more of your genes.
- A family relative has a health condition that is caused by changes to genes.
- Your close relatives have suffered/died from a particular type of cancer that could be inherited.
- You or your partner have a health condition that could be passed on to your children.
- Whole genome sequencing has been recommended or undertaken as a means of preventative healthcare or for the purposes of receiving precision medicine/treatment.
Given the rapidly evolving landscape associated with DNA testing, it is important to obtain specialist legal advice to identify, manage and resolve the complex and far-reaching legal and practical issues and outcomes. It can:
- Advise on options for opening and managing dialogue with biological parents and relatives following a direct-to-consumer DNA test.
- Provide expert legal advice in respect of legal parentage claims involving DNA testing.
- Advise, represent or defend individuals in an application for a Declaration of Parentage in the English Family Court.
- Advise and assist in applications to rectify a birth certificate (add or remove a parent’s name) following DNA testing.
- Resolve a dispute about paternity/legal parentage, DNA testing and financial provision for a child or individual.
- Specific Issue and Prohibited Steps Orders (including applications concerning genetic testing, genome sequencing and genomic medicine applications involving a child).
- Create a bespoke legal action plan to proactively manage complex family situations and dynamics.
- Advise on saviour siblings and the law.
How We Can Help
Our legal services include:
- Legal packages
- Bespoke legal advice tailored to your situation, needs and wishes
- Preparation of legal documentation
- Legal support and representation in court proceedings
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Louisa Ghevaert has dealt with many landmark fertility and family law cases, including those involving DNA testing:
X v Y  EWFC 77, representing the applicant in a complex application for a declaration of parentage in the English High Court following an ancestry website search and a 35-year quest to find her biological father to resolve issues relating to her identity and her birth certificate. In granting the application, the court highlighted the fundamental importance relating to identity, status and parentage and the re-registration of birth certificates to provide properly maintained records not just for the benefit of individuals but for the public as well. In doing so, the court navigated complex legal issues and drew inferences from the respondent’s refusal to undergo DNA testing.
Click here to read more about our other well known cases.
News & Commentary
Our expert family and fertility lawyer Louisa Ghevaert regularly commentates on DNA testing, family and fertility law, including:
“Our Father, DNA testing & what do we mean by ‘parentage’? (by Louisa Ghevaert for Fertility Help Hub, a fertility lifestyle platform, 24 August 2022).
“Declaration of parentage: the importance of identity, status and birth certificates” (Louisa Ghevaert Associates blog, 19 July 2022).
“DNA testing, parentage disputes and the law” (Louisa Ghevaert Associates blog, 15 June 2022).
“Declaration of parentage: confirming family ancestry and biological parentage following adoption” (Louisa Ghevaert Associates blog, 8 June 2022).
“Netflix’s “Our Father”: DNA testing, paternity disputes and questions about biological and legal parentage”, (Louisa Ghevaert Associates’ blog 18 May 2022).
“Declaration of Parentage, resolving family ancestry and questions about parentage and birth certificates”, (Louisa Ghevaert Associates’ blog 20 November 2021).
“Direct to consumer genetic testing: a family and fertility law perspective”, (Louis Ghevaert Associates’ blog 28 July 2020).
Click here to read more about our media and commentary work in relation to family and fertility law and DNA testing.