The state Legislature addressed Texas's baby-mama drama this session when, on May 12, Governor Rick Perry signed a bill that immediately relieves men determined not to be the biological father of a child from being required to pay child support. The bill passed unanimously through both the House and Senate.
Previously, as we reported in a 2008 cover story on the subject, state law determined that a man was legally the father of any child born to his wife -- and men only had four years to challenge their paternity. But with the advent of DNA testing, science outran the law. And during the years of science leading the charge, Judge David Hanschen erred on the side of DNA testing to the chagrin of others in law enforcement including the Texas attorney general.
"I ruled against the law, and the law was just wrong," Hanschen tells Unfair Park. Legally, he could have sentenced a man to jail for not financially supporting a child he did not biologically father. "That's just crazy," Hanschen says.
"What I said for years is that the truth doesn't have a statute of limitations," he says. "The courts are charged with finding out what the truth is."
Last year, Hanschen was not re-elected to his post in family district court. He attributes his loss to being chastised, especially in this Dallas Morning News editorial, for the way he handled these cases.
"I believe in many respects it cost me the election because of what The Morning News did," Hanschen says. He was regarded by many as an outlaw judge, even though today most of his actions would be considered neatly in step with the law.
The new child support law does not absolve men from making late child support payments. Regardless of biological testing results, a man is bound to the terms of the previous arrangement until the day he is determined not to be the biological father.
"I think this was a big stride forward," Hanschen says. "The truth no longer has a statute of limitations."
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