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Men who think they have been ordered to pay child support for a child that is not theirs may benefit from a recent law, but they must act quickly. The Texas laws regarding contesting paternity will become stricter beginning in September of this year.

A new Texas law allows a man who has suspected he is not a child’s father for several years to file a petition for a paternity test through the end of August. The test results may then release the man from paying all future child support.

Beginning on September 1st, however, dads must submit their petition to the court within one year of the date they first suspect they may not be the child’s father. If they fail to do this the child support obligation will remain.

So far relatively few men have taken advantage of the new law. “We have more than one million child support cases, and I’m aware of around 100 cases across the state where men have filed a petition with the court under this new law,” said a spokesperson for the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

It is important to note that regardless of paternity results men will usually remain liable for past child support payments. Disproving paternity in a timely manner, however, will likely relieve men of future child support obligations.

If you feel you may be the victim of mistaken paternity an attorney can provide further information about your rights and options. A lawyer can also advise you of applicable deadlines as they pertain to your situation.

Source: KLTV, “Dads who are stuck now have a way of getting out,” Melanie Torre, June 6, 2012.