Fighting Paternity Fraud – Austin Child Custody Attorney
Paternity fraud has become a growing issue in recent custody cases in Texas. It has unfortunately become fairly common years later in the course of a heated argument that a Dad is “politely” informed that one or more of the children aren’t even his biologically. Of course, this comes after years of child support and acting as the Father, so go figure. Until recently, at least in Texas, a man in that situation was stuck and bound by the prior orders that may have been obtained by fraud where the mother purposefully did not reveal she had been intimate with another man.
In 2011, the legislature passed a paternity fraud statute that allows for a cause of action for a man who, believing he was a father, did not contest parentage and acknowledged paternity or was adjudicated as the father without a DNA test.
If the mother, by misrepresentation, led the man to believe he was the father of the child and therefore failed to contest the parentage of the child, the man can request a court order to conduct DNA testing a number of years later in an effort to terminate his parent-child relationship with the child.
A couple of things to note here. First, that voluntary DNA test that the “dad” obtains in secret while the Children are with him on Summer possession is not admissible in Texas per se and absent agreement of the parties. That DNA test has to be done, under these circumstances, pursuant to a court order. Second, the child support the man has already paid is not recoverable. However, if the DNA test reveals the man is not the child’s father, the court can effectively terminate that person as a parent and end the man’s obligation to support the child.
Attorneys should counsel men to be careful of the legal implications of terminating parentage, however, under these circumstances. Especially the older and more aware the children are, the larger the risk that the relationship with the children could be completely and permanently affected. While the “dad” may no longer be responsible for paying child support, if the client had developed a strong bond with the child he risks being completely cut out of the child’s life or unalterably changing the relationship between them and affecting that child for many years to come. In those circumstances, it is best to politely maneuver around the lack of paternity, and leverage the mother’s fraud to obtain a better outcome for the man, such as equal possession without child support.
James W. Evans Law Office – Family Law Austin
We focus on family law because that’s what we’re passionate about—helping families through difficult times. We see legal support as an extension of the emotional support you are no doubt receiving from friends and loved ones. The goal of our Austin attorneys is to reach an amicable solution for all parties involved—including children, who sometimes have little say in the matter. Talk to someone on our litigation support team today.