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Sometimes a father's rights mean not having to pay support

The rules for resolving parenting obligations and rights in Texas is meant to be gender neutral. That's the ideal. The reality is that very often things wind up hitting the male side of the equation a little bit harder. To counter possible biases it is important to work with an attorney who understands the disadvantages a father can face.

Some of the most delicate issues that surface in the context of family law may be those that deal with paternity and the implications that go along with it. Every situation is going to be different.

In some instances, a father may find himself fighting to obtain greater child visitation or custody rights. In others, it might be a matter of trying to rebalance child support obligations because of changes in life circumstances. Maybe the father has lost a job. Maybe the custodial parent's situation has improved dramatically, making it possible for the court to consider a modification.

Sometimes, the question centers on whether the support-paying parent should be facing any obligation at all. This is a question that a court in New Jersey confronted recently.

An unmarried woman had gone to the county seeking social services for her 2-year-old twins. As part of the process, a determination of paternity was required. The woman named one man as the father of the twins and so his DNA was tested.

What that test determined was that the man was the father of only one of the twins. It turns out the woman had had relations with a second man within a week of the first and two of her eggs had become fertilized by the different partners.

As a result the court ruled that the man named as father of both only has to pay support for the child that is his. It would seem this is a case in which the court sought to strike a balance between the best interests of the child and the rights of the father.

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