March 30, 2007 — A couple of months ago, a Time Magazine article shed some light on "Duped Dads" who learned through genetic testing after a breakup or divorce that they are actually not the biological father of a child. The article detailed how several states like Oregon and Colorado were already considering legislation which would protect fathers who pay for child support and later learn of this shocking discovery via a DNA test, and you can now add Texas to the list of states considering such protections.
State Representative Harold Dutton recently introduced House Bill 774, which would add DNA tests to Texas divorce courts. While current Texas law presumes that a child born during a marriage is a child of the marriage, this TX child support legislation would not allow courts to make a father pay child support payments of more than $100 upon recognition of several conditions:
Upon viewing the turnout to state hearings on this subject, Dutton called this issue a "major problem" in an online KHOU.com story that also detailed the specific case of Morgan Wise. A long time after his Texas divorce, Wise was shocked to find that two of his four children were not biologically his. The railroad worker described the revelation as being "the worst day in his life" during the story.
While Dutton stressed the vast importance of this proposed Texas child support law, others questioned its validity in the KHOU.com story. Attorney Rick Flowers expressed that while he could understand the anger which would result from learning through a DNA test that you are not the biological father, he said that people should challenge paternity before and not after divorce cases. He described his own experience with these types of complaints from clients as being very rare and occurring maybe once out of every 300 clients.
While reporting on the recent Colorado "Duped Dads" bill, a Rocky Mountain News story cited a Citizens Against Paternity Fraud statistic estimating that nearly one million men in the United States have found themselves in similar predicaments as Wise and Dylan Davis. Prominently featured in the Rocky Mountain News story and the Time Magazine article, Davis learned following his divorce that his two-children were not his. Despite this revelation and the fact that his ex-wife and kids live out of state, the story detailed how Davis still pays more than $600 a month in child support payments.
Similar pieces of child support legislation have raised an important issue about fairness to not only tricked fathers but also those children who have been raised and financially supported by these men. Proponents of this Texas child support legislation and similar measures have validly argued that these duped fathers should not have to pay high child support payments based on such deception. On the other hand, opponents to these types of child support bills have justifiably asked what about the children and indicated how children will be affected not only financially but also mentally when a father does not have to make child support payments.
With this issue walking such a tight line, it will be interesting to see how this Texas child support legislation and similar measures in Colorado and other states do in their respective legislatures. Stay updated on the latest developments with these child support bills and changes to the divorce laws in your state right here at Total Divorce.