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Can a DNA Test Prove Uncle or Aunt Status?

Updated on November 24, 2021
Written by
Kelly Jamrozy
2 sources cited
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DNA testing helps you identify blood relatives.

The closer the relative the more accurate the results.

This means it’s easier to identify someone as your mother or father than it is to determine if someone is an uncle or cousin or grandparent. But despite not getting pinpoint accuracy, a DNA test can show an aunt or uncle relation.

When is an Aunt or Uncle DNA Test Required?

One of the most common uses of a DNA test regarding an aunt or uncle relationship is as a “fill in” for one or more deceased parents.

These tests are also used to determine if someone alleged to be an aunt or uncle is actually a true biological parent.

Testing aunt and uncle relations provides a statistical analysis of the probability of a relationship.

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Living DNA Mother line traced

If a parental DNA test is possible, an aunt or uncle test might not be necessary. But in cases where no parent is available, an aunt or uncle test would show a probability or percent of the likelihood that one test subject is related to another.

So, for example, instead of a DNA test verifying that John is John Jr.’s father if John is no longer living, an uncle test would show that John’s brother Bill is likely John Jr.’s uncle.

How are Conclusions Reached in Aunt and Uncle DNA Testing?

A DNA laboratory evaluates the gathered sample from each subject and establishes a genetic profile. Based on the genetic material provided by both, the lab creates a kinship index.

In cases where the kinship index score is less than 1, the DNA lab determines there is no biological relationship between subjects. A kinship index result score of more than 1 indicates the subjects are likely related. The higher the score the closer the biological relationship.

An aunt or uncle DNA test doesn’t return a definitive result of an aunt or uncle relation, but when combined with other information, it creates a biological likelihood of whether or not the person was a sibling of someone’s biological parent.

It is possible to increase the accuracy of an aunt or uncle DNA test by including more testing data.

For example, if the test includes either of a person’s parents, a better assessment of aunt or uncle status is possible. This is because the lab has more genetic information for which to compare.

What Type of DNA Sample Method is Used?

Aunt and uncle DNA tests use the same testing method as other DNA tests.

A sample is collected in the home or by a doctor using a mouth swab. Samples from both test subjects are sent to a lab for testing. The process usually takes a few days to a week depending on what testing company and lab is used.

The results include a full laboratory report regarding the information gleaned from the samples. In some cases, a doctor or genetic specialist might need to interpret the results.

Depending on your reason for establishing a genetic link between two test subjects, you might opt to use a legal test instead of a private or recreational DNA test. The only difference between the two is that in a legal test, certain requirements must be followed to ensure the results of the test are court-admissible.

For example, chain-of-custody must be performed to ensure witnessing and verification. Some at-home DNA test kits include the documents needed for third-party witnesses, like doctors or lawyers, so the test is legally admissible. This prevents someone from ordering a kit and obtaining results dishonestly or unethically.

When Would You Use a DNA Test to Prove Aunt or Uncle Status?

The most common reason a DNA test would be administered to prove an aunt or uncle relation is to track a person’s heritage if his or her parents are untestable.

They might be dead or unknown. Determining a more distant genetic link to an aunt or uncle provides insight into a person’s background.

Additionally, a DNA test can prove that a person is both the biological father and the biological uncle of a child. In this scenario, a test might occur for legal reasons involving abuse.

There are also rare instances in which a person can be the known biological father and DNA test results can show that the father is biologically the uncle.

Oddly enough, this occurs if the father of the child is a chimera.

Chimeras are conceived as fraternal twins, but in utero, the two embryos fuse into a single person. That person has the DNA of two different people. And depending on which DNA ends up in the child, it’s possible that the genetic relationship between father and child would be that of uncle and nephew.

Can a DNA Test Prove a Person is Your Aunt or Uncle?

The simplest answer is “maybe.”

DNA results can tell you someone is likely or unlikely to be your aunt or uncle. If you are conducting a test because someone is either a biological parent or an aunt or uncle, the test will rule out the parental relationship.

Through the process of elimination, you’d conclude the person is an aunt or uncle.

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Resources

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Rutherford, Adam. “How Accurate Are Online DNA Tests?” Scientific American, 15 Oct. 2018, www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-accurate-are-online-dna-tests/.

Kauffman, Megan. “Rapid DNA Testing at the Border: Protecting the Children.” Immigration and Human Rights Law Review, 1 May 2020, lawblogs.uc.edu/ihrlr/2020/05/01/rapid-dna-testing-at-the-border-protecting-the-children/. Accessed 20 Nov. 2020.

Kelly Jamrozy
Content Contributor
Kelly has experience working with clients in a variety of industries, including legal, medical, marketing, and travel. Her goal is to share important information that people can use to make decisions about their health and the health of their loved ones. From choosing the best treatment programs to improving dental and vision health to finding the best method for helping anyone who is struggling with health issues, she hopes to share what she learns through informative content.
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