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Texas does not rescind established paternity easily

Texas law regarding parenthood of a child makes it relatively easy to establish a parenting relationship. As we noted in a post last November, all that's required is for two a man and woman to sign a document called an Acknowledgment of Paternity.

The ease of the process may be good for the state. It doesn't require genetic testing. And once an AOP is signed, it becomes easier for officials to determine child support, custody and visitation issues. It also becomes easier for the state to hold the signatories of the document accountable for fulfilling their parental obligations.

But as we noted in that post, there can be times when a man who signs an AOP might discover he isn't the biological father of the child in question after all. What options are available to him to seek to reverse the claim and end the relationship with the child?

Up until 2012, the options might have been limited, but the 82nd state legislature did amend the Family Law Code to make it possible to end a parent-child relationship where mistaken paternity can be shown. Because of the complexity of the process, it's always advisable to work with an experienced attorney throughout the process.

To pursue such an action, a man must file a petition with the court to end the paternal relationship. A hearing is then held to determine if all the necessary requirements have been met to allow the petition to be considered. If it is accepted, a genetic test can be ordered by the court. And if the test then shows that the petitioner is not the father, an order ending the relationship might be entered.

As there are with many issues under the law, there is a statute of limitations for when such actions can be taken. In cases where relationship was established after August 2012, the petition to end the relationship has to be filed within one year of the man learning he isn't a child's father.

And it should be noted that if a termination request is successful, it only affects child support duties from the date when the decision is entered. Any previous support obligations, including possible interest that might accrue on that amount, sill must be met.

Source: Texas Attorney General, "Child Support: Frequently Asked Questions," accessed Aug. 12, 2015

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