Also known as a “legal” test, a validated paternity test refers to paternity tests that are legally binding and admissible in a court of law.
While there are many different ways to test paternity, none are considered to be legally binding (and admissible in court) unless a strict chain of custody is followed. This chain of custody ensures that the sample came from a specified party and that the sample was not tampered with in any way.
Validated tests are typically done at the request of a court order or through a doctor’s prescription. The samples are collected in the lab after proper identification has been shown and the parties must sign an informed consent form. The results are notarized and then transported via courier to a designated party (such as the court) to ensure that the chain of custody remains intact.
Tests that do not follow this chain of custody process (including at-home paternity tests) are considered to be private tests, often done for curiosity purposes only. These curiosity tests still utilize the same science as the validated tests and technically are still as accurate – they just lack the sample documentation that would allow them to be admissible in a paternity case.
Curiosity paternity tests don’t require a prescription or court order. Instead, they’re done at the request of the consenting parties. You can typically obtain your own samples and they are less expensive than their validated counterparts.