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New Texas statute allows men to challenge paternity of a child

When most people think of a DNA test freeing someone from jail, it is usually for being wrongfully accused of a crime they never committed. In this case, a DNA test freed a Dallas man from jail after he had been convicted for being a "deadbeat dad." After a DNA test revealed he could not possibly be the father of the child, he was released from prison. He was accused of owing over $50,000 in child support by the child's mother who claimed he was the father of her child.

This cautionary tale all started in 2006 when the man was separated from his current wife. Being young and foolish he says, he went out with some friends and met the woman. After a very brief relationship with the woman, she claimed he was the father of her unborn child. It was a new Texas law that helped the young man, now 31-years-old, set the record straight. After his attorney purchased a DNA paternity test kit from a drugstore, he secured a chain of custody and sent the samples to a lab.

Just a few days later, the attorney informed his client of the results, that there was zero probability he was the father of the child. But it didn't end there. Although he was released from jail and from any future parental liability for the child, by Texas law he still owed the $50,000 in back child support.

Then the real miracle happened. The woman who claimed he was the father of her child had agreed to relinquish the child support she was, by law entitled to. She did not have to do that, said the man's attorney.

The ordeal that began six years ago had finally come to an end. The attorney for the man said he thinks this is the first case under this new Texas statute. Now other men who may doubt the paternity of their child have an option for filing a claim. But there is a time limit under the new statute - men only have until September first to file a claim challenging paternity.

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

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