Married or unmarried, parents are responsible for providing for the welfare of their children. Until recently under Texas family law, if the parents are not legally married, the non-custodial parent must pay child support to the custodial parent — even if the non-custodial parent is not the biological parent.
However, in Texas, there are approximately 128,000 men who are paying child support for children who are not biologically theirs. Judges enforce the support orders because they feel it is in the best interests of the children to do so. However, this can have serious consequences for the men involved.
One Harris County man is required to pay $1,400 per month in child support payments, representing 40 percent of his paycheck. After paying all of his bills for the month, he says he only has about $23 left to live on. This financial burden caused him to lose his car and home.
However, a recently enacted Texas law may give these men a modicum of hope. If they can submit paperwork to the court proving they are not the biological fathers of the children they are paying for, they will no longer be financially responsible for them. There are still a couple of caveats to this. The men must have discovered they were not the biological fathers within the past year, and they remain responsible for any backdated child support.
Many people believe this inequitably penalizes men who knew they were not biological fathers several years ago. It is unknown if the state will change the law to allow more men to qualify. Whether they qualify or not, men who find themselves in this situation should seek advice on the course of action to take to resolve child support disputes and other family legal issues.
Source: KVUE.com, “New law gives men chance to fight mistaken paternity,” Aug. 30, 2012