Barry Wallace praised God yesterday as he was released from jail after serving two and a half months for nonpayment of child support for a child that DNA testing showed wasn’t his. Barry has a wife and two children that are REALLY HIS, and they praised God too. The mother of the child joined in asking the court to terminate Barry’s legal parent-child relationship.

Though the new Texas statute does not give the court the power to terminate or adjust the arrearage in any way, the mother of the child signed a Full Accord and Satisfaction and Release Agreement, and told the court that forgiving the past due child support was “the only right thing to do.” With the acquiescence of the Texas Attorney General’s Office, the court, in an unprecedented move, accepted the Full Accord and Satisfaction and Release Agreement and ordered that the Attorney General’s office report the child support (and interest) “fully satisfied.”

Barry’s case is not unusual. In fact, it happens all too often. The mother of the child thought he was the father at the time. But later, everyone came to realize or suspect that he wasn’t her father. The only problem was that there was no legal mechanism in Texas for addressing this serious mistake. While Barry went to jail two times for not paying child support for a child that wasn’t his, his wife and children suffered the total loss of his income and his presence and support.

The Texas Family Law Council and State Senator Cliff Harris, the sponsor of the bill in the Texas Senate that made this possible, are to be commended for “doing the right thing”, just like the mother did yesterday in forgiving the outstanding balance. (For those of you that don’t know, this bill passed unanimously in both houses of the Texas legislature last session.) Kudos also to the Office of the Attorney General for their acquiescence in mom doing in her words, “the only right thing to do.”

You all deserve a big Amen.