Custody Contests
Attorney General Cases
Mark D. Dunn
Attorney at Law
555 Republic Drive, Suite 200
Plano, TX 75074
(972) 516-4243
FAX: (877) 527-8913

Family Law/Civil Litigation Practice in Dallas County and Collin County (Texas)


If a baby is born to a married woman, there is a legal presumption that the child is a "product of the marriage," that is, that her husband is the child's father. One old English case says that this is the strongest presumption in the law (Lord Mansfield's rule, 1777).

But not all children are born to married women.

A paternity suit involves five questions:

      1. Is this man (the one named in the petition) the father of this child?

      2. (If he is the father) Should HE get custody, or should the mother get custody? In other words, whom should the child live with?

      3. How much monthly ongoing child support should the non-custodial parent (usually Dad) pay each month?

      4. What kind of visitation should be ordered for the non-custodial parent? Should it be restricted in any way?

      5. How much retroactive child support (if any) should Dad be ordered to pay? After all, if he is found to be the child's father today, that means he was ALWAYS the child's father, and he's had a duty to support the child all the way back to the child's birth. The Family Code says that there's a presumption that retroactive child support should go back only four years (section 154.131, Texas Family Code). This retroactive amount (after it's been reduced to a written judgment) draws interest at 6% per year.

There may be a sixth question: How much per month should Dad pay toward the retroactive child support (in addition to his regular monthly child support)?

Either parent (alleged parent) can request the Court to order DNA testing.

One also has the right, in a divorce case, to raise the question of the paternity of a child born during the marriage, and have it adjudicated along with the other issues.


The copyright to all materials in these pages is owned by Mark D. Dunn, except as otherwise noted, or by the original author, and no materials may be copied, published, or otherwise used without permission.

Disclaimer (the fine print)

The information on this website is not legal advice, and it may not be applicable to any specific set of facts ... especially your own personal situation. The perusal of this website does not establish an attorney-client relationship. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation, and I invite you to contact me; I welcome your calls and emails. Contacting me does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to me. I am an attorney licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas to practice law in all State courts and certain Federal courts, but I'm not board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.