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Challenging paternity in Texas starting September 1st

A new law passed last year allows men in the state of Texas to legally challenge the paternity of a child if he suspects misrepresentation took place, a mistake was made or fraud was involved in a prior paternity case. If a man has been named the biological father of a child by a court order or has acknowledged paternity of a child and he suspects he is not actually the child's father, he may challenge the paternity in his case. However, after September 1st he must challenge that paternity within a year of learning about or suspecting he may not actually be the child's biological father.

Prior to September 1st, if you suspect you may not be a child's biological father you may file a petition to challenge the paternity of said child regardless of when you first learned of facts putting into question the child's paternity. If you at all suspect you may not be a child's father, you should file a petition with the courts immediately otherwise you may have to explain to a court why you waited to question the child's parentage. As reported in a prior post a few months back, the challenger must specify why he now suspects he is not the child's biological father and not previously.

Starting September 1st, the new law requires a man to file a verified petition to request his parental rights be terminated. That petition will result in the courts holding a pre-trial hearing to determine if the man has a justifiable reason for not suspecting previously that he was not the father of the child. Upon determining just cause, the court will order genetic testing, also called a paternity test, to determine if the man is the child's father.

The Servicemembers Relief Act may allow a challenger to suspend the one year limitation, however it will only stop future child support payments, not arrears or past due payments. In these cases a successful challenger will not be able to recover support payments made prior to when the court terminates parental rights.

If the paternity test determines the man is not the child's biological father, the court must then terminate the legal relationship between the child and adjudicated parent, as well as terminate any existing orders of child support. The court does have the discretion to order continued visitation between the man whose parental rights were terminated and the child.

Source: Fort Bliss Monitor, "Mistaken fathers have one year to challenge paternity," E. Stephanie Hebert III, Aug. 8, 2012

Our Houston, Texas, law firm handles a variety of family law issues, including child custody and child support issues. Visit our fathers' rights and paternity web page for more information.

1 Comment

Hi Wendy: Hope your are doing well. I was doing some research on post judgement parernity testing, and your website was helpful. I think my client is screwed.

Take care,

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