Dallas, Texas (PRWEB) January 12, 2012
“We hear a lot about “deadbeat dads.” A whole industry has grown up around forcing dads to pay child support. But if a woman lies and says you are the dad when you’re not, the same institutional machinery that grinds up and spits out deadbeat dads can steamroll right over the wrong guy and his entire real family,” says Dennis A. Fuller, who specializes in paternity case law.
2011 was a year of monumental changes in Texas Family Law. One of the most significant changes in a hundred years is the new statute allowing men to request paternity testing (DNA testing) even long after their divorce or paternity suit has been finalized. If the DNA test results show the child is not theirs, they can now force the courts to terminate their child support - even if they continue to see and have a relationship with the child.
“For decades now, Texas courts and judges have forced men who were not the biological father to pay child support; even to the point of denying their real children food and shelter. The misery this has caused some families has been unbearable. Good husbands and fathers have been thrown in jail for not paying child support for children that everyone involved acknowledged were not their children,” continues Fuller.
This year, the Texas legislature finally acknowledged that this was just wrong, and passed a statute to right this injustice, but there is a very narrow window to take advantage of this change. Section 161.005 of the Texas Family Code was amended effective May 12, 2011 to allow men previously adjudicated to be “fathers” to petition the court for DNA testing. Under the amended wording of the statute, if DNA testing shows they are not the biological father of the child, the court must terminate the parent child relationship - and along with it - the child support order.
However, there is a catch.
“Texas courts have demonstrated for decades a bias against terminating parent child relationships and child support obligations,” states Fuller.
Repeatedly courts have held that it was not in the best interest of the child to do so, and therefore decline to do so, even when a diligent lawyer has presented a paternity case that gives them the opportunity to do it.
Fuller continues, “The catch is that if you found out you weren’t the father years ago, you only have until September 1, 2012 to file your petition. After September 1, 2012, you will be barred from using the new statute. After September 1, 2012 if the court finds that you knew or decides you should have known you weren’t the father before September 1, 2011, then you will not qualify to terminate your parent child relationship or your child support - ever.”
“For the next eight months, it doesn’t matter when you found out you weren’t the father. For the next eight months, it doesn’t matter what she says (truthfully or other wise), but after September 1, 2012, if she says she told you years ago that you weren’t really the child’s father, the same court that really doesn’t want to terminate your child support, will have a way to deny your termination request forever.”
Fuller encourages anyone that knows someone paying child support and thinks they may not be the child’s real father, to tell them to contact an attorney immediately to pursue a paternity case. “Many courts will continue to have a bias against terminating child support. After September 1, 2012, those courts will have a way to avoid terminating child support that they won’t have for the next eight months.”
Dennis A. Fuller
Attorney at Law
5420 LBJ Fwy, Suite 500
Dallas, TX 75240