Paternity in Texas has many different aspects that come up under the law. One issue that can be complicated has to do with mistaken paternity. This can be related to paternity fraud, confusion with potential biological fathers, paternity actions and more. The state has taken steps to deal with factors that commonly arise with mistaken paternity.
When a man does not believe he is the biological father of a child for whom he had been ordered to pay child support, the parent-child relationship can be terminated and the requirement that support be paid for the child can be stopped. If the man meets the requirements under the law, he can ask for genetic testing. When the testing excludes the man as the father, the relationship will legally conclude. If there were arrears that accumulated before the parent-child relationship was terminated, these will still have to be paid. If a man believes there is mistaken paternity, a petition must be filed to terminate the parent-child relationship.
There are time frames that must be followed to terminate legal paternity if paternity tests were taken and the man is not the biological father. Prior to September 1, 2012, a petition can be filed independent of when the man found out that he is not the biological father. From that date onward, the petition must be filed up to the first anniversary of the date when the man learned he was not the biological father. If a man was aware that he was not the biological father when he signed the Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP), he must state that he believed that the child was his when the AOP was signed or when there was the court order. The judge will consider the information the man has provided and evidence from the other party to determine whether to allow the case to proceed or not.
If the parent-child relationship is terminated, the man will no longer have to pay child support in the future. If the man asks for continued access to the child even if he has been excluded as the biological father, it can be continued if the court decides that terminating contact will damage the child physically or emotionally. Mistaken paternity is a problem that many men face. Understanding how to deal with it under the law can be complicated. Because of that, a legal professional experienced in all matters related to paternity can help.
Source: texasattorneygeneral.gov, "Mistaken Paternity," accessed on Dec. 29, 2016