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Texas follows Missouri's lead for limits to paternity challenges

Paternity law in Texas changed on September 1st to impose a one year statute of limitations on fathers who want to challenge paternity to avoid paying child support. Under the new law, legal fathers only have one year from the date they learn they might not be a father to petition for DNA testing in order to have the court declare they are not the child's father and do not have to pay child support. As a result, paternity law in Texas now has similarities to Missouri law and other states.

Under the Missouri law, which changed in 2009, a father who questions paternity has two years from the time a judgment of paternity or child support is entered by the court. If the paternity and support judgments are entered at different times, the law gives the father two years from the later judgment to file a petition to set aside the judgments.

The petition has to show that the father:

•1. Had DNA testing done within 90 days of the petition that shows he is excluded as the biological father; or

•2. Is requesting that the court order genetic paternity testing using DNA.

If the court finds there is probable cause to think that testing will show the man is not the biological father, the court will order the testing and the father will have to pay for the test.

If the testing shows the man is not the father the court can:

•1. Grant the petition and set aside the prior judgments of child support or paternity for that child,

•2. Erase any outstanding arrearages the man owed for child support for that child, and

•3. Order the child's birth certificate be changed to remove the man's name as the father.

However, DNA testing is not a guarantee that the court will grant the petition. If the court determines that it is in the best interests of the parties not to grant the petition, the court does not have to grant the father's request, even if the DNA testing shows the man is not the biological father.

Source: NewsChannel10, "Deadline quickly approaching for paternity test," Angelina Perez, August 17, 2012

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Joseph J. Porzenski
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