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DNA paternity proof can now reverse parental rights in Texas

Until recently, child support orders had been relatively difficult to reverse. However, under a new Texas law enacted this year, men will not be obligated to pay child support if a DNA paternity test can prove that they are not the father of the children in question.

Under the new law, men have until September 1, 2012 to file a petition with a family court with respect to mistaken paternity, regardless of when they discovered they were not the father. After that date, Texas men will have one year from the day they find out that they are not the father to file a petition to eliminate parental rights and obligations.

As a result of the new law, men who are listed as fathers can protest paternity by a DNA test. If paternity is not established by the DNA test, then a court can terminate parental rights. Any future child support payments will be eliminated. However, men will still be responsible for past child support orders, even if paternity rights were established by mistake.

For example, a Texas man who had been ordered to pay more than $50,000 in child support is still responsible for those child support payments. This is true even though a DNA test proves that the child in question is not his biological daughter. The case began in 1986, when a woman he had been dating had a baby and claimed that he was the father. He believed that the child was his and agreed to the child support order without disputing paternity of the child. He now claims that he is the victim of mistaken paternity, but the new law will not reverse amounts that he already owes.

It is also important to remember that the law will not apply to fathers who had adopted their children and thereby have agreed to parental obligations.

Source: khou.com, "Houston man forced to pay child support for child that DNA proves isn't his," Jeff McShan, 23 June 2011

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