You’ve been divorced for a year and are dropping your 6 year son, Junior, at your ex’s house in Forney at the end of your weekend possession. As soon as you show up at her house she starts bitching about you being 5 minutes late. You immediately chuckle because as you drove up you looked at your phone and noticed you were actually 5 minutes early. In response to her stupidity, you stick your phone display in her face to prove your righteousness and tell her that she’d know how to tell time if she hadn’t dropped out of high school to pursue a career in cosmetic sales. Her brow wrinkles, her mouth opens, and in her worst hillbilly dialect she smirks, “I don’t even know why I let Junior stay with you. You ain’t paid me in 6 months, and you ain’t even his real daddy.” Confused and angry about what your lying, no-good ex has done to you, you call your attorney at Guest & Gray and ask, “How can I fix this?”
Until recently, our answer would have been discouraging because it has been over 4 years since you became the presumed father of Junior at the time of his birth. But now, thanks to our friends at the Texas Legislature, we would tell you to run, not walk, to our office so we can file your termination petition to get you off the hook from paying your sorry ex child support for Junior (who turns out to be her love child with Randy, the Kaufman County dog catcher).
“But what if I knew she cheated on me with good ol’ Randy in the restroom of the Stables Club approximately 9 months before baby Junior discovered America?” No worries, you have until September 1, 2012 in order to file your petition for termination. After that date, the new law requires you to file your petition to terminate within 1 year from when you discovered the facts indicating that Junior was not your kid.
“Does this mean that I don’t have to pay my ex the 6 months of back child support I owe her?” No. You’re still responsible for all past due child support. But, the judge can’t put you in jail for failing to pay your back child support after the termination goes through.
“What if I still want to take Junior to all our favorite places like Home Depot and Twin Peaks after my rights are terminated?” This one is a little trickier. You can ask the court for post-termination access and visitation with Junior (without child support), but the court will grant it only if denial of such contact will significantly impair Junior’s physical health or emotional well-being.