Jerry Jones entered the news cycle last week and it’s not quite Dallas Cowboys related. The quite-famous owner of the team so many Texas football fans love is facing a lawsuit from a 25-year-old woman named Alexandra Davis who is claiming to be Jones’ daughter. According to the AP account in March 9’s Express-News, the suit contends that Jones is the woman’s biological father — despite Jones denying that and despite his making an earlier arrangement with her and her mother.
As the story noted, “Davis and her mother reached a settlement in which Jones would support them financially as long as they didn’t publicly identify him as her father, according to court documents.” But it’s set to go to court on March 31, as Davis is “asking the court to find she isn’t legally bound by an agreement between Jones and her mother if she attempted to establish legally that Jones is her father.”
The story also noted that during the divorce proceedings involving Alexandra’s mother Cynthia, after she and Jones allegedly had an affair, “it was determined through genetic testing that Alexandra Davis was not the child of Cynthia Davis’ husband. He was not ordered to pay child support when the divorce was finalized, and Alexandra Davis did not have a legal father, court documents said.”
In Texas, Section 160 of the Texas Family Code lays out the rules governing paternity, including cases in which someone is presumed to be the father of the child, and what must take place if either a child or mother seeks to determine paternity.
First, let’s start with some of the most common scenarios in which a man would be presumed to be the father of a child. Those include, according to Section 160, if:
- he is married to the mother of the child and the child is born during the marriage
- he is married to the mother of the child and the child is born before the 301st day after the date the marriage is terminated by death, annulment, declaration of invalidity, or divorce, or
- during the first two years of the child’s life, he continuously resided in the household in which the child resided and he represented to others that the child was his own.
But what happens if there’s no presumed father and no father listed on the child’s birth certificate? In most cases, genetic testing would be required, with the cost typically shared between the parties involved, though the court will typically make that determination. While no genetic testing method out there will determine 100 percent that the person in question is the father, it can determine it with over 99 percent certainty, and 99 percent is the threshold that will allow for custody, parenting time, and child support conversations to commence.
It’s also notable that, under the Texas Family Code, even children who have reached adulthood can seek to determine paternity. It’s also important to remember that, per the Code, “a child born to parents who are not married to each other has the same rights under the law as a child born to parents who are married to each other.”
However, if the child has a presumed father and the mother is seeking to determine paternity, “the paternity suit must be brought within four years of the child’s birth, unless the presumed biological father and mother did not live together or engage in sexual relations during the likely time of conception, or the presumed father was misled to believe he was the father.”
At the Law Office of Lisa A. Vance, paternity is one of the many facets of family law we can help you with, starting with an initial consultation to go over the details of your case and to let you know how you can proceed in getting the outcomes you seek. Contact us today to learn more about what’s possible.