Back in the day ( before 1887) Texas law did not recognize fathers for children born out of wedlock.  These children were labeled “bastards” or “illegitimate” and were legally recognized as the children of no one.  And at that time there was not obligation to support a child born out of wedlock.

Fast forward to 1973, whenTexas enacted the Family Code and made it possible for a father of a child to establish his paternity voluntarily.  Two years later,  the Texas  legislature adopted an involuntary paternity statute so that others could pin parental duties on biological fathers,  thereby securing the rights of illegitimate children to obtain paternal support.

Texas now has a Parentage Act, which makes it possible for the office of the Attorney General to bring paternity proceedings against alleged fathers to establish paternity and have them ordered pay support.

Despite the progress, there remained big problems – namely, men were being legally named as the father when they weren’t actually related to the child.    If there as the possibility of more than one man being the father,  the mother would frequently name the one able to pay the most in child support.  Sometimes a man believed he was the only candidate for the father, and would agree to the paternity.   Of course, it is only recently that genetic testing was considered reliable for establishing paternity.

To make it even worse, once a man was declared to be the father, there was no mechanism in the law to undo the declaration.

Until now.  Effective September 1, 2011, a man who has been  mistakenly identified as the father and signed an acknowledgement of paternity, or who has been  judicially determined  to be the father without obtaining genetic testing, can seek to have  the parent child relationship terminated.  If genetic testing shows him not to be the father, future child support payments are terminated but he can petition the court to allow him rights of possession and access to the child.

For more information on this new law, contact attorney Craig Fowler with Hammerle Finley Law Firm.