Over a period of many years the Texas legislature has enacted a series of divorce law statutes intended to force fathers to pay for the support of their children. Although well-intentioned, some of the divorce laws were outrageous when applied to certain cases. Those situations involved paternity lawsuits in which a man took the mother’s word for the fact that he was the father of a child and did not ask for DNA tests.
In those cases, the courts entered orders deeming the man to be the father of the child and ordered him to pay child support until the child reached age 18 or graduated from high school. Under the law as it previously existed, a man who was under a court order to pay child support had virtually no means of escaping that obligation if he later determined that he was not the child’s father.
The new divorce law statute provides an opportunity for men who did not have DNA tests done prior to the entry of child support orders to now request that the testing be performed. If the tests indicate the man is not the father of the child, the prior child support orders will be set aside and he will be free from any future obligation for payments.
There are limits on the time within which a man can pursue this remedy and thereafter any orders that are not challenged will remain in effect.