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In Texas, a paternity test shall set you free, sort of

Finding out you are a parent can be the best, most exciting news of your life. For many supposed fathers, however, that news takes on some serious consequences. Children are born outside of marriages and from one-night flings all of the time. That one night can mean a lifetime of owed child support for a biological father.

A Texas man was sent to jail when he was unable to live up to the legal requirements of supporting a child who was allegedly his. Jail time and the label of "deadbeat dad" have a significant impact on a person's life, particularly when he has a wife and other children outside who depend on him. But in this Texas man's case, he took a paternity test based on a new law that offered him a chance at redemption.

The new Texas law gives those who have been incarcerated due to failure to pay child support the chance to verify paternity by September. If a paternity test proves that the inmates are not fathers, they will be released. But, there is still one issue that these fathers might want to challenge.

A test that sets them free from jail won't necessarily set the men free from the back child support that got them into jail in the first place. In the particular case of the Texas man mentioned in this post, the mother of the child whom turned out not to belong to the defendant independently decided to not require the $50,000 in back support.

The man called that outcome a "miracle," and that's a miracle that not all wrongfully jailed "deadbeats" will be able to count on. Do you think that the law should be amended to free men from having to pay back child support for kids who are not biologically theirs?

Source: CBS DFW, "Man Jailed For Child Support For Baby That Wasn't His," Carol Cavazos, April 12, 2012

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