Family Reconstruction DNA Tests are a special type of paternity test in which the genetic material of a child is compared to that of two or more undisputed close relatives of an alleged father to determine the likelihood that he is the child’s biological father. Such tests, sometimes called “genetic reconstructions,” are usually performed in situations where the alleged father is deceased, although they may also be used in cases where the alleged father is incarcerated, uncooperative, or otherwise unavailable to provide a sample for testing. In a legal setting, family reconstruction DNA test results have been used to establish paternity of a child in order to acquire custody, to obtain Social Security survivor benefits, or to settle an estate or inheritance claim.
In family reconstruction DNA test, the laboratory attempts to “reconstruct,” as completely as possible, the genetic makeup, or possible genetic makeup, of the unavailable alleged father by testing his available close relatives. In these tests, we are asking the question, “Do the alleged father’s close relatives possess the genes that the child inherited (or possibly inherited) from its biological father?” Close relatives are limited to first-degree relatives of the alleged father—his mother, his father, his full siblings, and his children. This is because these relatives are genetically the most similar to the alleged father (except for an identical twin), sharing 50% of his genes in common by inheritance.
The conclusiveness of a family reconstruction DNA test depends upon who is tested but, in general, the more genetic information available, the greater the chance the test will be conclusive. More genetic information about the alleged father is obtained by testing more of his close relatives. As with traditional DNA paternity tests, grandparent tests, sibling tests, and avuncular tests, testing the mother of the child increases the certainty of the test significantly, because it allows us to determine which half of the child’s genetic markers came from the biological father. For the same reason, when undisputed children of the alleged father are being tested, testing their mother will also increase the conclusiveness of the test and is therefore recommended whenever possible.
A highly-publicized—and highly instructive—example of a family reconstruction DNA testing situation was presented on the reality television show, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” On the show, mother Kris Jenner sought DNA testing of herself and four of her children in order to prove that one of them (Khloe) had the same father as the other three (Kim, Kourtney and Rob), namely, the late Robert G. Kardashian. To learn more about the genetic strategy chosen to address the paternity of Khloe Kardashian, click here.
For more information about determining paternity using family reconstruction DNA tests, please call us today at 1-714-648-0468.
By: Dr John Taddie