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Texas Paternity Fraud: I'm Not the Father So Why the Child Support? | San Antonio Criminal Lawyer | Bexar County Family Attorney | Law Office of Bill Baskette
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Texas Paternity Fraud Im Not The Father So Why The Child Support

Texas Paternity Fraud: I’m Not the Father So Why the Child Support?

What if a man has been named the father of a child, but has to pay child support because he missed court or was misled into signing a paternity statement without a DNA test? Although the Texas Family Code covers a wide range of legal issues from divorce, child custody and spousal support to modifications of custody and visitation because of parental relocation, one Texas paternity provision was recently changed regarding the need to correct paternity mistakes with DNA testing. Prior to the passage of Texas Senate Bill 785, a man could only request a paternity test prior to a legal designation of fatherhood. If he did not assert that right before a legal declaration was made, contesting paternity later – even with DNA evidence – was almost impossible. This put men who had been deceived about babies’ parentage in unacceptable positions of having to support children not their own until adulthood. Texas Governor Rick Perry signed SB 785 into law last year after a legislative battle that had lasted six years. The law provides for a new process that allows men to file petitions of mistaken paternity to challenge wrongful determinations that they are fathers and thus obligated to pay child support. The new law, Texas Family Code section 161.005, also means that a man who signs an acknowledgement of paternity, or AOP, form at the hospital after a child’s birth can later challenge paternity with a DNA test. As with all Texas family law cases involving children, their best interests should be taken into account by courts before terminating parent-child relationships. Future child support obligations will be terminated if court-ordered DNA testing shows that a man is not the father of a child and the petitioner shows that he was under a mistaken belief that the child was his because of the mother’s misrepresentations. However, child support reimbursement under these circumstances is not authorized by the bill, and past-due child support, including interest, is still enforceable by contempt of court. Situations Not Subject to Mistaken Paternity Petitions Under certain circumstances, men are not allowed to petition the court for termination of child support obligations. A man cannot file a petition for mistaken paternity if:
  • He is the child’s adoptive father.
  • He consented to assisted reproduction by his wife as defined by Texas law.
  • He is the intended father of a child conceived under a gestational agreement as defined by Texas law.
A Petition to Terminate under this law must be filed within a year after a man learns that he is not a child’s father. Because this provision is so new, a discussion with a Texas family law attorney can help a potential client assess his legal options and understand other emerging developments. Other Changes That Can Affect Child Support Under the Texas Family Code Mothers or fathers who have child support obligations can obtain termination orders under several other circumstances:
  • Marriage of the child
  • Removal of a disability that justified child support
  • Death of the child
  • Emancipation of the child (reaching 18 years of age)
  • The child’s enlistment in the U.S. armed forces, as of the date of active service
In addition, child support orders, as well as provisions regarding custody and spousal support, are subject to post-divorce modification by the court. This is a formal legal process that takes into account factors such as changes in financial or other relevant circumstances, as well as the best interests of the child or children. Parental relocation is a common reason for an ex-spouse or other parent to seek modification of a custody or support order. Even if both parents casually agree that relocation makes sense, they should formalize their plans with the court to avoid future problems. Texas Divorce Lawyers Advise Parents and Spouses About Legal Updates Every aspect of Texas family law is subject to change, whether through legislative action or new legal interpretations by state appellate courts. An experienced family law attorney understands the significance of recent or pending changes, and can advise clients accordingly. This is true whether the client is concerned about a custody dispute, a divorce, adoption of a child or allegations of domestic violence in the context of a custody dispute. By staying abreast of the latest changes to the law, a child support lawyer can provide clients with the knowledge they need to protect their interests.