Anytime that a marriage breaks down in Texas involving a husband and wife who have kids, the issues of child custody, known under Texas law as conservatorship, and child support must be dealt with in a divorce proceeding. In some cases, custody and child support issues can be worked out amicably, and at other times complex issues need to be resolved to reach a final workable plan.
But not all child support and custody issues necessarily arise in a Texas divorce. One married Texan was recently thrown in jail for a child support issue. The man has a wife and two kids, but the child support issue involved a separate woman who had entered the picture in 2006, while the man and his wife were temporarily separated.
The man was recently thrown in jail in Tarrant County for allegedly failing to pay $50,000 in child support from what has been described as a very short relationship during that 2006 separation. As the man sat in jail, he obtained a DNA test, which later showed a zero probability that he was the parent of the child associated with the child support order.
The man in the recent Dallas case reportedly had learned of the new law through his mother who had called the man's wife to alert her to the statute, according to CBS in Dallas-Fort Worth.
The man was freed from jail last week. A Texas judge legally terminated the man's parental relationship based upon the DNA test under Texas law. The judge says that the Texas law is not just an idea that concerns parents. "I think a child has a right to know who the parents are when they're being raised," she says.
Notably, the judge's ruling only terminated the man's future obligations to pay child support on behalf of the child under the current state of the Texas law. The judge's ruling did not erase that $50,000 in back child support. However, the mother of the child associated with the back support issue reportedly agreed to relinquish her claim to the money, something that she was technically legally obligated to do under Texas law.
This blog has previously discussed the new law regarding DNA tests in Texas. But the law sets a deadline of September 1 to file a claim for parents under a current child support order who dispute paternity to challenge parenthood with DNA evidence.
Source: CBS DFW, "Man Jailed For Child Support For Baby That Wasn't His," Carol Cavazos, April 12, 2012