Interviewer: A DNA test is going to happen and then let’s say it takes four days. If I’m in that situation, what’s going to happen after that or what’s the next step if we find out that the DNA does indeed show a difference and it’s not a match?
Jeanne Morales: If the DNA shows he’s not the father then there’s a final hearing where the judge signs an order that he’s not the father and he’s no longer obligated on the child support and the case is over. That’s why I wanted to make sure people understood their rights because this was important enough that Texas legislature changed the law, and it’s relatively straightforward.
You file your request. There could be a hearing, especially if it’s contested, where the judge says, “Yes, you have developed a reason to believe that the child’s not yours,” and orders a DNA test. After the DNA test he signs an order declaring that you’re not the father.
The other thing that people need to be aware of that’s part of this process is the man can still request his attention with the child. This law was not created in a vacuum. Yes, the individual who’s paying child support, if he’s not really the genetic father and he can prove it under the framework of his law, should no longer be obligated to pay child support. After this child is eight or 10 or 12, however, and he’s developed a relationship with the child, even though he’s no longer require to pay child support he can demand and obtain regular visitation for both his mental wellbeing and the child’s.
So that’s really important. Like I said, this was not developed in a vacuum it was the best attempt the legislature could come up with to balance the emotional needs of a child and quite frankly the alleged father with the legal ramifications of forcing someone who is not the father to pay child support.
It’s imperfect and there are going to be people who say that the legislature should have never done that but regardless of the situation this is the law as it stands and those who are in the situation need to be aware of it.