Terminology: Paternity suits | Petition to Adjudicate Parentage | order establishing parent-child relationship for all
purposes | SAPCR |
Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship | Motion to Modify | genetic testing | determination of
paternity | paternity registry | nonpaternity | biological father | birth mother | disestablishing paternity | acknowledgment of
paternity | rescission of acknowledgment | affidavit of relinquishment | termination of father's parental rights | adoption | step-
parent adoption | married | unmarried | marital | nonmarital | denial of paternity | presumption of paternity | marital
presumption | non-paternity |

Recent Cases from Houston Courts of Appeals

Alexander v. Johnson (pdf) (Tex.App.- Houston [14th Dist.] Jan. 5, 2010)(Hedges)
denial of bill of review relief affirmed, challenge to paternity, genetic testing) (procedure and deadline for
revocation, rescission of acknowledgement of paternity)
Appellant, Larry Alexander, appeals from an order denying his petition for bill of review to set aside a default order in a suit
affecting the parent-child relationship (“default SAPCR order”).  The default SAPCR order appointed appellant possessory
conservator of J.A., a child, and ordered appellant to pay child support.  In two issues, appellant contends that he was
entitled to bill-of-review relief because he was fraudulently induced to sign an acknowledgment of paternity (“AOP”),
preventing him from presenting a meritorious defense to the trial court’s default SAPCR order.
AFFIRMED: Opinion by Chief Justice Hedges  
Before Chief Justice Hedges, Justices Seymore and Sullivan
14-08-00778-CV  Larry Alexander v. Tiffany Johnson  
Appeal from
311th District Court of Harris County  

Statute of Limitations Applies to Rebuttal of Presumed Paternity
In Interest of G.T.S. (Tex.App.- Houston [1st Dist.] Oct. 8, 2009)(Jennings)
paternity proceedings to rebut presumption of paternity and establish other man's paternity barred by
equitable estoppel theory not properly presented)  
Justice Jennings   
Before Justices Jennings, Higley and Sharp
01-09-00212-CV In the Interest of G. T. S., a child   
Appeal from 173rd District Court of Henderson County
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dan Moore

Common law husband not entitled to parental presumption once court-ordered paternity
tests prove he is not biological father
In Interest of XCB (Tex.App.- Houston [1st Dist.] Jun. 18, 2009)(Op. By Anderson)
termination of parental rights, nonbiological father figure, common law marriage to mother, best interest
factors, failure to preserve constitutional arguments for appeal)
AFFIRMED: Opinion by
Justice Anderson    
Before Justices Anderson, Guzman and Boyce   
14-08-00851-CV  In the Interest of X.C.B., AKA X.C, I.C.B., AKA I.C., S. B.C., and J.W.C AKA J. W. W.
Appeal from 315th District Court of Harris County
Brown challenges the trial court's order of genetic testing.  A proceeding to adjudicate parentage is
governed by the Uniform Parentage Act.  See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §§ 160.001-160.707 (Vernon 2008).  
Section 160.601 specifically authorizes the DFPS to bring suit to adjudicate the parentage of a child.  Tex.
Fam. Code Ann. § 160.601.  Once genetic testing is conducted and the results released for use in a
proceeding to determine parentage, any resulting harm cannot be undone.  In re Attorney Gen. of Tex.,
272 S.W.3d 773, 777 (Tex. App.- Dallas 2008, orig. proc.) (holding there is no adequate remedy at law for
the harm respecting erroneously ordered genetic testing, and mandamus relief is appropriate).  Therefore,
once Brown submitted to genetic testing, his complaint that the  order for testing was erroneous became
moot.  Brown's first issue is overruled.

Court of Appeals throws out trial court's finding of unconsitutionality of paternity
registry statute
In Re CMD (Tex.App.- Houston [14th Dist.] Jun. 25, 2009)(Yates)
paternity, nonpaternity, adoption: constitutionality of paternity registry statute)
Opinion by
Justice Leslie Brock Yates     
Panel members: Before Chief Justice Hedges, Justices Brock Yates and Guzman   
14-08-00113-CV In Re C.M.D.   
Appeal from 328th District Court of Fort Bend County
Based on [the evidence in the record], we cannot agree with the trial court's determination that a
constitutional violation has been established.  An unwed father does not automatically have full
constitutional paternal rights by virtue of a mere biological relationship.  See Lehr v. Robertson, 463 U.S.
248, 261-62 (1983); In re J.W.T., 872 S.W.2d 189, 198 (Tex. 1994).  Rather, he must, early in the child's
life, take some action to assert those rights.  See Lehr, 463 U.S. at 261-62; In re J.W.T., 872 S.W.2d at

Based on the mother's affidavit, she called to tell the father that she was pregnant and then again after
she had the baby, but he offered no assistance, never contacted her again, and disconnected his phone
numbers.  If the father had no intent to assert his parental rights, he could not have suffered a due
process or equal protection violation based on a deprivation of those rights.  The mother's affidavit
evidence is uncontroverted, but even if the trial court did not credit it, that leaves no evidence one way or
the other about the father's knowledge, circumstances, or desires.  An absence of evidence cannot
overcome the presumption of constitutionality.  See Valero, 203 S.W.3d at 563 (rejecting constitutional
challenge because appellant did not bring forth evidence regarding his circumstances); see also Walker,
111 S.W.3d at 66 (stating we are to presume statute is constitutional); cf. Atmos Energy Corp. v. Abbott,
127 S.W.3d 852, 857 (Tex. App.- Austin 2004, no pet.) ("A court cannot pass on the constitutionality of a
statute unless the facts have matured, forming the concrete basis against which the statute may be
applied"). Unlike other reported cases challenging the constitutionality of paternity registry statutes, we
have no complaining father.[3]  That he (or another father) could possibly be aggrieved is not a proper
basis to declare the paternity registry statute unconstitutional in this case, either as applied or on its face.  
See M.V.S. v. V.M.D., 776 So. 2d 142, 145, 151 (Ala. Civ. App. 1999) (rejecting equal protection and due
process challenges to paternity registry statute because putative father had notice of adoption
proceedings and thus the constitutional argument did not apply to him); see also Santikos, 836 S.W.2d at
633; Meshell, 739 S.W.2d at 205; Ex Parte Dave, 220 S.W.3d at 156.  Without evidence of an actual injury
in the case before it, the trial court erred in declaring the paternity registry statute unconstitutional.  
Therefore, we reverse the trial court's judgment and remand for further proceedings consistent with this

Any "father" better than none? - Paternity Test Results Suppressed
In re OAG (Tex.App- Houston [1st Dist.] Dec 11, 2008)(Taft) Taft)(bill of review, prior factually false
paternity adjudication upheld, parentage proceeding)
Justice Taft  
Before Justices Taft, Keyes and Alcala
01-08-00670-CV  In re The Office of the Attorney General of Texas
Appeal from 310th District Court of Harris County
Trial Court
Judge: Hon. Lisa Millard

AG appeals nonpaternity adjudication
In Interest of SRB (Tex.App.- Houston [14th Dist.] July 24, 2008)(Seymore) (parentage, nonpaternity)
Justice Seymore  
Before Justices Fowler, Frost and Seymore
14-06-00864-CV In the Interest of S.R.B
Appeal from 246th District Court of Harris County
Trial Court
Judge: Jim York

AG loses appeal from summary judgment favoring alleged father
In the Interest of KRS (Tex.App.- Houston [14th Dist.] June 24, 2008)(Yates)
paternity, nonpaternity, failure to present error in opening brief proves fatal to appeal, rule enforced)
AFFIRMED: Opinion by
Justice Brock Yates  
Before Justices Brock Yates, Guzman and Brown
14-07-00080-CV In the Interest of K.R.S., a child
Appeal from 306th District Court of Galveston County
Trial Court Judge: Janis Louise Yarbrough  

Stamper v. Knox (Tex.App.- Houston [1st Dist.] Mar. 20, 2008)(Keyes)
family law, presumption of paternity, nonpaternity, DNA testing, equitable estoppel)
Justice Keyes
01-06-00875-CV Michelle Stamper f/k/a Michelle Knox v. Stanley Keith Knox
Appeal from 306th District Court of Galveston County
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Janis L. Yarbrough
Concurring Opinion by
Justice Jennings in Stamper v. Knox

Bill of Review Suit Fails

Thomas v. Thomas (Tex.App.- Houston [14th Dist.] Aug. 23, 2007)(Seymore)
bill of review denied, divorce, nonmarital child)
AFFIRMED: Opinion by
Justice Seymore
Before Justices Frost, Seymore and Guzman
14-06-00069-CV William Robert Thomas v. Patricia Russell Thomas
Appeal from 245th District Court of Harris County (
Judge G. Annette Galik)

Bio Dad of Child Born from Adultery Succeeds in Appeal of Retroactive Child Support
Order and Denial of All Visitation

Miles v. Peacock and OAG (Tex.App.- Houston [1st Dist.] Apr. 19, 2007)(Bland)
restricted appeal)
This case illustrates the perils of not answering and not appearing for trial. Mother and attorney general
won a default judgment for $24,000 in retroactive child support, current support of $1,000 per month, life
insurance coverage for the benefit of the child, health insurance, and an order denying the biological
father all visitation. The child had been born of an adulterous affair and thus had a presumed father. Wife-
Mother waited until child was a teen before going after the biological father. The Court of Appeals found
Bio Dad had waived the statute of limitations defense that applies under such circumstances by failing to
plead it (he failed to file an answer), and held that admission of paternity test results was proper because
the mother's husband had asked for them. Affirming the judgment of paternity, the Court, in an opinion by
Justice Jane Bland, reversed the award of child support and the denial of all access because no evidence
was presented on the father's income and other relevant factor. Likewise, no evidence was presented that
a deviation from the standard possession order was warranted and in the child's best interest. The court's
opinion points out that the relevant facts must be proven in family law case to support default judgment,
which differs from the confession of judgment rule in other civil cases.

Terms: family law, parentage, adjudication of paternity, restricted appeal, default judgment, retroactive
child support, paternity, presumed father,
statute of limitations defense]

Justice Bland
(Before Chief Justice Radack, Justices Jennings and Bland)
01-06-00313-CV In The Matter of the Marriage of Bridget Peacock and Carnell Peacock
Appeal from 247th District Court of Harris County (
Judge Bonnie Hellums)
We conclude that Miles has waived any statute of limitations defense and therefore affirm that portion of the trial court’s
judgment adjudicating his paternity of N.S.P.  With respect to the portions of the judgment awarding child support and
denying possession, we conclude that insufficient evidence supports the trial court’s findings and therefore reverse and
remand for further proceedings.
Family Court Case Law: Paternity and Nonpaternity
from the
Houston Courts of Appeals
Harris County Family Law Center


Child Custody and Visitation Cases
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Texas Family Law Blog
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