Woodley & Dudley

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Petitioning to terminate mistaken paternity

It is not unheard of for a man to pay child support for a child that is not his. Such an event may occur due to instances of mistaken paternity.

A legally obligated father, however, continues to have an obligation to pay the child support unless and until he fulfills the legal requirements to terminate that obligation.

Petition requirement to terminate father-child relationship

As described by Texas’ Office of Attorney General, first, the father must petition the court to end the father-child relationship. The appropriate court will hold a hearing to first see if the father has met the requirements to even allow him to pursue this case to terminate his obligations. If he is successful, the court may then order genetic testing. The results of that testing will determine if the court shall terminate the relationship.

One-year time limit to file petition

Of significance, there is a time limit in which a father who seeks to terminate the relationship may do so. He must file his petition within one year of learning he is not the child’s parent.

In some cases, a father may have previously signed an Acknowledgement of Paternity prior to learning he is not the actual father. In such instances, the father will have to explain in his petition why he at one time believed he was the father of the child. The court will consider such statements, and that of any opposing party, in deciding if the matter may proceed.

Office of Attorney General provides no legal assistance

The Office of Attorney General must receive notice of the court action. However, the OAG does not represent either party, nor will it assist in filing the petition.

Arrears are still due

It is important to know that successfully terminating the relationship and the obligation to pay support does not erase arrears for child support still owed from the past. Rather, it will only terminate the obligation to pay future support as of the date of the order of termination.

It is also possible for a legally terminated father to petition to be able to continue to have visitation or possessory time with the child despite the change in legal obligations.

 

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