In 2011, the 82nd Texas Legislature recognized the problem of paternity fraud in Texas and passed Senate Bill 785 into law. The law, amending Texas Family Code §§ 154.006, 161.005, etc., and later amended in 2013 by House Bill 154, provides a legal remedy for victims of paternity fraud who were tricked into paying child support for children who are not theirs.
If someone made misrepresentations to you that led you to believe you were the father of a child, and because you thought you were the father, you either signed an acknowledgement of paternity or you failed to defend yourself in a court case establishing you as the father and ordering child support, then you may be able to file a lawsuit to terminate child support payments once and for all.
On May 12, 2011 the paternity fraud statute went into effect. Under Texas Family Code §161.005, a man can file a suit to terminate the parent-child relationship and end his child support obligations if he satisfies certain legal requirements. Generally, the man must have either signed an acknowledgement of paternity without first obtaining a DNA test, or a court must have determined he was the father in an earlier case in which DNA testing was not performed. The man must also have signed the acknowledgement of paternity or failed to challenge the original court case establishing him as the father, because he was led to believe he was the child's father based on misrepresentations made to him at the time.
As the law is written, it doesn't matter whether the misrepresentations were intentional or accidental. The mother might have lied and intentionally deceived the man, or she might have sincerely believed the man was the father. It wouldn't make a difference. The law is also silent when it comes to who made the misrepresentations. It could have been the mother, a family member, a friend, or someone else.
Once the Petition is filed, the court will hold a pretrial hearing. At the pretrial hearing, if the man establishes a meritorious prima facie case, then the court will order a DNA test of the man and the child. If the DNA test results prove the man is not the father of the child, then the court will order the parent child relationship (and child support payments) terminated. If the DNA test results establish the man is the father of the child, the man may have the option of a second DNA test to be certain there wasn't a mistake.
Currently, a victim of paternity fraud must file his lawsuit within two years from the time he becomes aware of the facts which indicate he is not the father of the child. If he doesn't meet this deadline, then he loses forever the protection afforded him in §161.005. Therefore, it is essential for any man who thinks he is the victim of paternity fraud to contact a lawyer immediately before his rights are lost. For victims of paternity fraud, every day of delay means more money wrongfully taken.