DNA Testing and its Impact on Paternity Determinations in Texas

A former client of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan had a pretty nasty situation fall upon him that required the help of a family law attorney. This gentleman was minding his own business one day when he received a letter from the Texas Attorney General’s Child Support Division.

He opened up the letter and out came a notice that he was in arrears (i.e. – he was delinquent in paying) over $15,000 in child support. I imagine that you or I would have had the same reaction as this gentleman did- complete and utter shock.

That complete and utter shock he experienced upon opening and reading the letter was justified because our former client did not have any children. This wasn’t a situation where he had a child out of wedlock years ago and was just not being made to “pay the piper” for child support that he hadn’t known was due.

Our client did know the woman who was listed on the paperwork as the mother of the child. She was an old friend from high school that he had been close to at one point but was never romantic with. Certainly the child listed on the paperwork was not his.

Act Immediately and Ask Questionste

Rather than bury the letter underneath bills and other documents, thinking that there was obviously a mistake that needed to be sorted out, our former client was proactive about the issue. He sought out multiple family law attorneys and interviewed all of them, including our office.

Ultimately he decided to hire the Law Office of Bryan Fagan to represent him in solving this problem for him.

The question he really wanted to know the answer to was: how can a man such as himself, with little money fight a designation as a father of a child you know is not yours?

Unfortunately there are many, many parents out there in Texas that do not take responsibility for a child that he or she (let’s be frank- usually this is a “he” we’re talking about) helped create.

The Attorney General’s Office is charged with making dads pay child support or facing consequences for not having done so. The vast majority of letters such as the one our client received are legitimate and the fathers and mothers who receive them actually do owe child support to one or more children.

Our client was an exception to this rule. The mother of this child lied to the State of Texas that this gentleman was the father of her child in order to collect child support based on this fraudulent claim. Unfortunately for our client the State does not do a whole lot of investigation into claims typically.

It ended up that our client had been notified of a court date in which the paternity of the child was going to be decided but he had not received the notice of hearing. So he missed his first chance to challenge the paternity in person and the State went to work attempting to collect back child support from another absentee parent.

A change in law benefited Texas men in 2011

Fortunately for this gentleman, the State of Texas passed a law in 2011 that allowed for men to request DNA/paternity testing even after the hearing in which he had been determined to be the father of the child in question. If the DNA testing showed that he was not in fact the father of the child then the court with jurisdiction over the child and father could be made to eliminate any future child support.

This is in stark contrast to the law in Texas from pre-2011. Fathers were made by law to pay child support for children that they were not the biological father of in some instances. This was all because there was no law that provided these men outlets to challenge paternity after legal proceedings had already declared him to be the father.

This could be especially harmful to men whose incomes would not allow for child support to be paid, in addition to providing for a family which contained his actual biological children.

The statute that I have been referring to is Section 161.005 contained within the Texas Family Code. Essentially, men who had been named as the biological father of a child in prior court proceedings would now have the ability to ask the same court to be DNA tested if none was conducted previously.

As I mentioned early, a “negative” DNA test would eliminate child support moving forward and terminate the parent-child relationship between the man and the supposed biological child.

Here is the rub- the statue was passed in 2011 and extended only to allow this to occur until September 1, 2012. Had our client not filed his petition with the judge prior to this date he would have been out of luck and the protections contained in the Statute would not have applied to him.

Since September 1, 2012 if you attempt to challenge paternity and the court determines that you knew that you were not the father or that you should have known based on other circumstances that you weren’t the father then your child support order will remain in place and the parent child relationship will not be terminated.

The lesson here, obviously since we are past September 1, 2012, is to attend any court hearing that is set up for you to challenge or admit paternity of a child. The State of Texas does not want to terminate parental rights for a child and believes it is in the best interest of a child for him or her to have a mother and father. That being said, knowing your rights and protecting them is crucial

Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan to discuss your questions on DNA and paternity

A free of charge consultation with one of our family law attorneys is only a phone call away. While the situation I described in regard to our former client is a bit extreme, it is true and is an example of how the legal system can harm you if you do not act immediately. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan represents clients across southeast Texas. Contact our office today to learn more about how we can help you.

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Other Articles you may be interested in:

  1. Challenging a paternity finding in Texas
  2. How can parental rights be terminated in Texas?
  3. Full Custody: What it means to you and what it can mean for your child custody case
  4. Termination of Parental Rights and an MSA in Texas
  5. Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights in Texas
  6. Relinquishment and Termination of Parental Rights in Texas
  7. Terminating Parental Rights in Texas on the Absent Parent
  8. Voluntarily Relinquishing Your Parental Rights in Texas
  9. What rights does a father have in Texas?
  10. Fathers' Rights: Children Born Out of Wedlock in Texas?
  11. Mom Versus Dad Who Gets the rights? - Custodial Rights Vs. Non-Custodial Rights in Texas
  12. Husband Not the Father, what do I do in a Texas Divorce?
  13. I am not the biological father but I want to be - Paternity by Estoppel?

Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Spring Divorce Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Spring, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our divorce lawyers in Spring TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.

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Spring Divorce Attorney
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Houston, TX 77068
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