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DNA test frees Texas man jailed for child support nonpayment

We sometimes hear stories of people freed from prison after DNA testing reveals they've been wrongly accused. A Texas man was happy to join those ranks after a paternity test showed he didn't owe child support for a baby that wasn't his.

The Dallas man and his wife do have children. But that's where the facts end and the confusion begins. He and his wife went through a separation in 2006, during which time he says he made a foolish mistake by going out with friends one night and engaging in a "two-night stand" with another woman. That mistake came back to haunt him when she told him he was the father of her child. He found himself in a Tarrant County jail in January of this year for nonpayment of child support -- to the tune of more than $50,000.

The man's attorney came to the rescue with an inexpensive DNA paternity kit from a drugstore. A few days later, the results came back, showing zero probability that he was the father. He was able to walk out of jail just last week.

The new statute that allowed the man to contest his paternity only took effect in September. It requires men to do so no later than one year from the date they discover a child may not be theirs. Those who have suspected they weren't fathers since before the law took effect have until Sept. 1 of this year to file.

But the paternity test didn't let him off the hook entirely. Although he was freed from his parental responsibility, he still owed the $50,000 in back payments under Texas law. Fortunately, the mother voluntarily relinquished her right to the payments. The man's attorney would like to see the laws change so fathers like his client aren't forced to pay for children who aren't theirs.

The man was left with a small balance of $1,300 for the attorney general's office, fees and the mother's medical care, but at least he can now focus on his real family, including his own two children.

Source: CBS DFW, "Man Jailed For Child Support For Baby That Wasn't His," Carol Cavazos, April 12, 2012

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