For some Texas men, September 1, 2012 marks the end of the grace period in which they can challenge paternity for children that are in fact not theirs.
Last year, the Texas legislature passed a law allowing Texas men their first opportunity to challenge the paternity of children that they were paying child support for even though they were not the biological fathers.
Establishing Paternity In Texas
Under Texas law, if a man is married to a woman who gives birth while they are still married, the man is legally presumed to be the child's father. With this presumption comes a child support obligation if the couple ever separates.
Unfortunately given that genetic testing is not required, many situations arise in which men are paying child support for a child that is not theirs. And given the prior law in Texas, many men were unable to challenge paternity in order to terminate the parent-child relationship, and thus were legally bound to pay child support even though they were not the biological father.
With passage of the new law, Texas men wrongfully paying child support for a child that is not theirs now have recourse. Until September 1, men who have previous knowledge that a child may not be theirs may prove they are not the father by means of genetic testing - and then can petition the court to terminated the parent-child relationship and ultimately end their child support obligations.
For men who discover after September 1, 2012 that they may not be the father, they have a period of one year from the day they acquire this knowledge to conduct a genetic test and petition the court to terminate the parent-child relationship - after that, they will have little recourse to challenge paternity and terminate parental obligations.
Source: kiiitv News, "Child support changes kick in Sept. 1," Courtney Francisco, July 19, 2012
Our firm handles situations in which a father wishes to modify child support. If you would like to learn more about our family law practice, please visit our Texas Child Support page.