If you believe you have been wrongfully declared the father of a child, you may be a victim of paternity fraud. Until now, if you 1) signed an acknowledgment of paternity; or 2) were declared to be the father by a court with proper jurisdiction and you failed to contest the matter within four years, you were the father by operation of law even if you had been duped into believing you were the father and you had DNA samples showing that you were not the father.
However, there is good news for fathers who believe they are victims of paternity fraud. SB 785, recently passed by the Texas Legislature and signed by the Governor of the State of Texas, gives any man a one year window ending on September 1, 2012 to terminate his parent-child relationship with a child who's not biologically his. So, men who have been paying support for years will be able to go to court and learn whether they are the biological father. If you are not, the parent-child relationship will be terminated.
Moreover, if the parent-child relationship is terminated because you are found not to be the biological father, any child support obligation will end at that time. Any accrued indebtedness or interest will still be owed and will have to be paid. Likewise, you cannot get reimbursed for amounts paid in child-support.
Non-biological fathers such as adoptive fathers or those who consented to artificial insemination by another man are not covered by this law.
Here's the text of the bill that's on Governor Perry's desk.
Again, there is a one year window of opportunity ending on September 1, 2012 to challenge paternity. According to the new statute, all you have to do is:
- File a sworn Suit for Termination of Parent Child Relationship by September 1, 2012;
- Have a preliminary hearing for the court to determine whether there is any proof of the validity of the claim;
- If so, the court has no choice but to order a paternity test.
- If paternity test is negative, the court must terminate the relationship.
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