DNA Test Deadline Nears For Texas Dads

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WYLIE (CBSDFW.COM) - DNA testing has helped to exonerate wrongfully convicted prisoners. Now, it’s helping to release men from having to pay child support for children they don’t believe are theirs. But there is a deadline looming to file.

Trey Andrews, from Wylie, knows all about it. He’s one of the first to be exonerated.

Andrews is a hyperbaric oxygen therapy technician. He helps people heal their wounds.

Last May, he told us about the sore spot in his own life, $450 a month child support payments.

“For a child I don’t ever get to see and haven’t seen for about 10 years that I’m 95 percent sure is not even my child,” Andrews said.

Andrews, who was 18 when he and the woman met, said the child was born when he was in a military boot camp. The couple didn’t stay together long, and she took the child to another state. But he still had to pay child support.

“Over the years, I started seeing pictures and started to realize he looks a lot like the man she was with before we ever got together,” Andrews said.

Andrews met another women who already had a child. They’ve been together eleven years.

“That’s the family I need to take care of,” Andrews said.

On May 12, 2011, Governor Perry signed Senate Bill 785 into law which could release Andrews from his child support payments if he passed a court-ordered DNA test.

It took months to track down his ex-wife. But she and Andrews finally took their DNA tests in December of 2011. He received his results that same month.

“I almost fainted,” Andrews said. DNA proved he was not the father. “It was like the 100 pounds on my shoulders lifted right at that moment,” he said.

Legal experts believe there are others like Andrews who already suspect they are paying child support for a child that is not theirs.

“The clock is ticking. We have until September 1st, 2012,” said Attorney Dennis Fuller, who wants to help get the word out. “Otherwise, they’re not going to know. The period of time is going to pass. And they’re going to be stuck forever.”

Fuller said he isn’t trying to drum up business either. He suggested men first consider buying a DNA paternity kit. He found one at Walgreens.

He said, he bought it for about $30. It costs another $130 for lab results that are returned in three days. The kit includes sterile mouth swabs. Fuller said if it’s too difficult to get the swabs, then a local DNA lab like Forensic DNA & Drug Testing Services could help.

For about $300, the lab could test a child’s ball cap, T-shirt or sock for example. These tests cannot not be used in court for evidence. They can only tell a man if money on an attorney would be well spent.

Trey Andrews has already paid an estimated $23,000 in child support for a child that wasn’t his. But under the new law, he won’t be getting his money back.

And even though he’s been removed from financial responsibility over the child, he will have to pay money he still owes. What he will be getting back is the life he has wanted.

Men, like Andrews, who already suspect they’re paying child support for a child who is not theirs, have until Sept. 1 to file a complaint.

Any man who after that date suspects he is not the real father has one year to file his complaint.

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