It happened to Justin Bieber in November. A mentally unstable woman that had multiple sex partners (that didn’t include Justin) lied and said he was the father of her child. Justin didn’t take that allegation lying down. His team jumped on it and forced a quick end to the lies. But what happens when you don’t have any money, or worse yet, when you want to believe it really is your baby.
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.
Do you know someone that is paying child support and now thinks they may not really be the biological father of the child?
Last year 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 of children 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.
This year, the Texas legislature finally acknowledged that this was just wrong and gave us a statute to right this injustice, BUT THERE IS A VERY NARROW WINDOW in which to do this. 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 they are found not to be 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. Repeatedly courts have held that it was not in the best interest of the child to do so, and therefore declined to do so, even when a diligent lawyer was able to give them the opportunity to do it.
The catch is that if you found out you weren’t the father years ago, you only have until Sept. 1, 2012, to file your petition. After Sept. 1, 2012, you will be barred from using the new statute. After Sept. 1, 2012, if the court finds that you knew or decides you should have known you weren’t the father before Sept. 1 of 2012, 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) about when you found out you weren’t the child’s real father. But after Sept. 1, 2012, if she says she told you years ago that you weren’t really his or her father, the same court that really DOESN’T WANT to terminate your child support, will have a way not to have to do it.
I encourage anyone that knows someone that is paying child support and that thinks they may not be the child’s real father to tell them to contact an attorney immediately and not wait. Many courts will continue to have a bias against terminating child support, and after Sept. 1, 2012, those courts will have a way to avoid terminating child support that they don’t have for the next eight months.