How can paternity be terminated in Texas?

A man in Texas may be able to terminate his parental rights because of mistaken paternity in some circumstances. If a man is named as a child’s father by a form acknowledging paternity or court order, paternity could be terminated if a mistake occurs. This normally happens before genetic testing when a man believes he is a child’s genetic father. When terminating a man’s paternal rights because of an error, a misrepresentation must occur that makes a man believe he is a child’s father. A man must not have previously agreed to be a child’s father after assisted reproduction, adoption or a court-validated gestational agreement. A man must file a mistaken paternity case within a year of discovering he is not a child’s biological father.

When courts accept genetic testing evidence, an accredited lab must perform a genetic test with results signed under penalty of perjury by a lab designee. The report must also include the names of those who collected specimens, the names, and photographs of every person tested, the names of those receiving every specimen, the dates on which specimens were collected and received and where the specimens were collected.

If genetic testing is ordered for a case filed by the Office of the Attorney General, there is usually no charge for testing. Otherwise, the person who requests testing is generally expected to pay for it.

Paternity is important because fathers have protected rights when going through a divorce in Texas. Paternity also matters because a man could be ordered to pay child support, and a man who is not a child’s genetic father is not reimbursed for any child support he has paid. A man who wants to stop payments or gain parental rights that are equal to those of a child’s mother can speak with a family law attorney to see what course of action should be taken.