Paula Lock Smyth Law Offices
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What if there is mistaken paternity in Texas?

There are situations in Texas when parents might have been under the impression that one particular man was the biological father of the child when he was, in fact, not. A man who thinks he is not the biological father of a child when he was previously ordered to pay child support may seek to have the order rescinded if it is shown that he is not the child's biological father. A paternity test must be taken for this to happen. In addition, it is important to understand that even if the man who had been paying child support is found not to be the child's biological father, back child support that is owed is still his responsibility.

A legal father who is calling his paternity into question must go to court to have the parent-child relationship terminated. There will be a pretrial hearing to determine whether or not the man has met the legal requirements for the case to move forward. If so, the court will order a paternity test be done. If the man is found not to be the biological father, then the parent-child relationship will be legally terminated. Prior to September 1, 2012, a man had the right to file a petition that he is not a child's biological father no matter when he learned that this might be the case. After that date, the petition is required to have been filed up to the first anniversary of the date when the man became aware of this reality.

If the man signed an Acknowledgment of Paternity or there was a court order establishing his paternity even if he knew that the child was not his, the man must show that he was under the impression that he was the child's biological father at the time he signed or the court decision was made. When the parental obligations are concluded, then the man no longer has to pay child support from the date the decision is rendered onward.

Sometimes, the man who was once believed to be the child's biological father still desires to see the child even after he has been found not to be the child's biological parent. The court may allow this if denial would harm the child and his or her physical and mental well-being. While this might seem to be an unusual situation, it does happen. Those who are concerned about paternity, family law issues and fathers' rights if a presumed father has been shown not to be the child's biological father may want to have legal assistance in navigating their case.

Source: texasattorneygeneral.gov, "Mistaken Paternity," accessed on April 5, 2016

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