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Undoing mistaken paternity in Texas

Paternity cases in Texas usually involve efforts by a child's mother to prove that a particular man is the biological father of her child. Occasionally, however, paternity testing is used to disprove that a man is the father of a certain child.

Mistaken paternity can have a number of unhappy consequences for both the alleged father and the true father. The most obvious of such consequences is a wrongfully imposed obligation to pay child support to the mother. Other issues may involve denying the biological father his legal right to share custody or insist on visitation. Any man who believes that a paternity proceeding reached an incorrect conclusion regarding his fatherhood can ask the court for assistance.

The first step is obtaining a court order directing both the man and the child to submit to genetic testing. The man is required to file a motion with the court asking for a finding of mistaken paternity. The court will order a pretrial hearing to determine if the man satisfies the statutory requirements for a determination of false paternity. If the requirements are met, the court will issue an order requiring both the man and the child to submit to DNA tests. Such tests usually involve obtaining DNA samples from both the father and from the child. DNA tests are usually definitive in proving or disproving paternity. The tests can be obtained from a number of sources, including doctor's offices, drugstores and laboratories that market the services. Most health care providers suggest obtaining such tests only from a laboratory accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks.

The court will issue an order based on the results of the test and on any other relevant evidence. If the court determines that paternity was mistakenly determined, it will issue an order to that effect. All child support obligations will be terminated as of the effective date of that order, although past due support must be brought current.

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