The Texas Legislature amended the Texas Family Code to allow courts to terminate the parent-child relationship and the duty to pay child support in circumstances of mistaken paternity.
What is the first step in determining mistaken paternity?
A genetic test is necessary to determine mistaken paternity when a man is ordered to pay child support but does not believe he is the father of the child(ren). Seek testing by a lab accredited by AABB (formerly known as the American Association of Blood Banks).
How does a legal father who questions his paternity end the duty to pay child support?
Texas law requires the man who is questioning his legal relationship to a child to file a petition asking the court to terminate the parent-child relationship.
The court must hold a pretrial hearing to determine if the man meets the legal requirements of the case to move forward. If he does, the court will order the legal father and the child to submit to genetic testing.
If the genetic testing results say the legal father is NOT the biological father of the child, the court may order a termination of the parent-child relationship and support obligation. However, the man is still responsible for any unpaid child support and interest up to the termination date.
What is the role of the OAG in helping a legal father in mistaken paternity cases?
A man who questions his paternity may decide to contact an attorney for advice on how to proceed. The law does not allow the Office of the Attorney General to file the petition terminating the parent-child relationship on behalf of the legal father.
It is important to know that the Office of the Attorney General must be given notice of the petition after it is filed with the court.
Once a court terminates the parent-child relationship, when will the child support stop?
A final order terminating the parent-child relationship ends the obligation to pay future support, effective the date the order is final. Any support not paid up to the date the order is final must be paid. The termination order does not eliminate this unpaid support or interest.