What does parental responsibility for DNA testing mean?

Parental responsibility means the power to make important decisions in relation to a child.

In terms of DNA testing, before AlphaBiolabs can perform any of its services we need to have a consent signature from each individual undergoing the testing process. Signing your name means that:

  • You agree to have your DNA samples analysed for the purpose specified
  • You understand the test ordered and any limitations associated with it
  • You have read, understood and accept the terms and conditions

If someone under the age of 18 years is taking part in the testing process then a signature is needed from an individual who has parental responsibility for the child. This is because a child may not understand the full implications of any DNA testing being undertaken. An adult with parental responsibility therefore has to sign on their behalf.

What is parental responsibility?

In UK law, parental responsibility is defined in section 3 (part 1) of the Children Act 1989 [1] as being:

‘all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property’.

AlphaBiolabs performs its DNA, drug and alcohol testing services at its laboratory in the UK; therefore, it is important that you understand the definitions of parental responsibility as set out in UK law.

Who has parental responsibility in UK law?

  • Mothers automatically have parental responsibility for any child from birth. They will not lose this parental responsibility if divorced.
  • Married fathers automatically have parental responsibility and will not lose it if divorced.
  • Unmarried fathers do not automatically have parental responsibility.
  • Step-parents do not automatically have parental responsibility.
  • Grandparents do not automatically have parental responsibility.

More detailed information can be found on the and Child Law Advice websites [2–4]

If you have any queries or need further information on DNA testing, please call Customer Services on 0140 29466 or email us at

Useful links