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Paternity testing when father is deceased or not available

Filed under: General,Law & Courts — Karl M McDonald @ 4:30 am Fri 8th March 2013

Paternity testing is carried out as a proof of biological relations between a child and an alleged father. In a normal case, obtaining a sample from the said father is as simple as a swab from the mouth. If the alleged parent is deceased however, the entire process is a bit more complicated. Fortunately, it is still possible to find out the truth even if this is the case.

One of the methods of determining paternity if alleged father is deceased involves obtaining samples from the body of the dead father. This applies in a situation where the alleged father only passed away recently. After obtaining the necessary authorization, nail clippings and hair samples (with root intact) can be collected, and these will then be analyzed in order to provide the necessary samples in establishing paternity by DNA. The procedure is definitely more complex than a swab but the paternity testing will be just as accurate.

If the deceased’s remains were cremated or interred, DNA samples can be obtained from items previously used. Such items include a drinking glass, hair comb (provided hairs have roots) and a cigarette or used tissue. Although these samples have been known to aid in determining paternity if the alleged father is deceased, the procedure is faced by a number of challenges. One major setback is the size of such samples, which in many cases is insufficient for any accurate DNA comparison. Secondly, only recent DNA samples qualify to be used in the procedure. Aged samples are unlikely to produce any comprehensive results.

Another option is to carry out a DNA test using blood relatives of the alleged father. If his parents are available, who are in this case the child’s paternal grandparents; they are the next best providers of DNA samples. Given that a child obtains half of the DNA from the paternal side and half from the maternal side, the paternal half matches the DNA passed down from grandparents. It is advisable for the mother to participate, so that the specialist can easily differentiate between the maternal and paternal DNA. Without the mother, the entire procedure will take longer due to the detailed analysis required and will definitely cost more.

Other immediate family members can also be used in determining paternity if the alleged father is deceased. This includes brothers, sisters, uncles, aunties, nieces and nephews. The more distant the relative, the more detailed the analysis is required to come up with comprehensive results. The mother’s participation is encouraged once again in all these cases, to make the entire procedure faster and more accurate.

In some extreme cases, especially where there is a court case, the body might be exhumed to obtain the samples. In such a case, the services of a forensic expert are necessary. Even if there are only bones left, it is still possible to obtain a formidable sample. It is recommended that the sample size should be at least 2 grams which will ensure that ample DNA is extracted. With all these methods of determining paternity if alleged father is deceased, the truth does not die with the deceased thanks to developments in DNA testing technology.

More information about DNA paternity testing can be found in the following article repository: easyDNA NEW Zealand Knowledgebase


  1. This reads like an advertisment and probably John will take it down on that basis.
    However I can confirm that prices quoted by these people are about 50% or more lower than the current accepted provider of these services in NZ and I understand IRD (and probably the Courts) only accept the more expensive provider who is who in turn is part of the MedLab stable of testing laboratories.

    Comment by Allan Harvey — Fri 8th March 2013 @ 6:37 am

  2. Ah but will the courts/IRD accept a DNA sample to disprove paternity – hence liability for Child Support? Remember the efforts Kay Skelton went to (And got convicted of) to falsify DNA samples.

    Comment by Gwahir — Fri 8th March 2013 @ 7:13 pm

  3. Yes I agree, it does read a bit like an advertisement Alan.

    However, it was posted with my permission because it is a subject potentially of interest to the MENZ readership. And they gave me a donation towards hosting costs.

    Comment by JohnPotter — Fri 8th March 2013 @ 9:08 pm

  4. I have spoken to this firm and their services look very professional and they have great accreditations and as I say their prices are only 30-60% of the cost of their competitors. In my chat I grilled them about the acceptability of their reports to the Family Court and IRD and they are sending me further evidence on this.
    The only downside to this is that on top of their fee is whatever your own GP or nurse charges you for the taking of the sample and verification of identification (people have learnt since Kay Skelton’s fraud).
    Given what I have heard I would strongly recomend this firm and hopefully we will see DNA Diagnostics pricing tumble in the next little whiler as well.
    Competition can’t be a bad thing.

    Comment by Allan Harvey — Sat 9th March 2013 @ 1:05 pm

  5. never hear of fathers doing this..

    Comment by kiranjiharr — Tue 12th March 2013 @ 7:10 pm

  6. …. in a first world country..

    Comment by kiranjiharr — Tue 12th March 2013 @ 7:11 pm

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