A Houston court has ruled that a man, who was proven not to be the father of a teenage girl, has been told by the courts he must pay $65,000 in child support to the mother.
Gabriel Cornejo, 45, took a DNA test proving that a child his ex-girlfriend had 16 years ago was not his, but despite what scientific evidence shows, the state of Texas claims he is still liable to pay.
“I never thought in my whole life I would have to defend myself or something that I am innocent of,” Cornejo told ABC News reporters.
Cornejo, who is a father-of-three and is raising two of his brother’s children, says he was never told about his ex-girlfriend’s claims to the court in 2003 that he was the alleged father of her child. (Scroll down for more.)
After the ruling in 2003, the state of Texas began assessing child support payments, which now totals nearly $65,000.
Court documents reportedly indicate that Cornejo was given a subpoena years ago, although he denies that it ever happened.
To make matters worse, he insists that he didn’t even know about the 16-year-old girl until 2016 when a deputy knocked on his door holding court documents, claiming he had a teenage daughter.
After meeting his then-alleged daughter for the first time last year, Cornejo’s wife, Esmeralda, urged him to get a paternity test, which later came back negative for a match.
“The results came in,” Cornejo said. “I’m not the father.”
Regardless of the findings, Cornejo’s ex-girlfriend still wants the child support money, as does the state.
The Houston Chronicle reports that Cornejo is still obligated to pay under Texas’ family code, also known as chapter 161, which states that even if you are not the child’s biological father, you are required to pay child support payments that accrued before the DNA test was taken, proving he was not the father, according to Cheryl Coleman, Cornejo’s attorney.
Furthermore, the court claims he is liable because he did not previously contest the paternity suit that his ex-girlfriend submitted in 2003.
His ex’s lawyer also argues that child support payments continued to be deducted from his paycheck for a long period of time, which he never fought.
Cornejo’s attorney defended her client, saying: “They say he should have fought back then and he failed to do so, but how can you fight something you don’t know anything about?”
Cornejo is scheduled to appear in court next month to hopefully convince the judge to reopen the case and overturn the ruling. If not, he could be forced to pay or potentially face jail time.
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