Establishing Paternity in Indiana – The Process
According to the Indiana Department of Child Services, establishing paternity simply means establishing who is the legal father of a child. Fatherhood is presumed if a man and his wife were legally married when the child was born. If a child is born after a man and a woman end their marriage, fatherhood is still presumed if the child was born no more than 300 days after the dissolution took place. In all other cases, a court order or a paternity affidavit is required.
The Paternity Affidavit
A paternity affidavit allows a man and a woman to affirm, under “penalty of perjury,” that the man is the biological father of the child. It can be completed at the hospital within 72 hours of the child’s birth, or at the health department at any time thereafter, so long as the child has not yet been emancipated.
Indiana Putative Father Registration
If a child is born to an unwed mother in Indiana and a woman does not (or is not willing) to sign an affidavit attesting to the identity of the baby’s father, it is important for the father to protect his legal rights against the baby’s adoption without his consent through what is known as Putative Father Registration. Through this registration, putative fathers (those claiming to be the biological father of a child) are notified if a petition for adoption is filed; thereby protecting the father from having his baby adopted without his consent.
Putative Father Registration is only a means for fathers to protect their rights in the event that an adoption is started without their knowledge or consent; registration does not confer upon the father any specific legal rights over the child (paternity is still required in order to establish full legal rights for fathers where fatherhood is not otherwise presumed).
For the current Indiana Putative Father Registry form please click here.
Seeking a Court Order for Paternity
A man or the child’s mother may each petition the court for a hearing to determine paternity, and the court will then hold a hearing. The court may determine that genetic testing is required: if so, the court may refrain from making a decision until the tests are returned.
How We Help
We are available to represent both men and women in paternity matters. We understand that paternity involves important rights, obligations, parenting time, and, if paternity is established, commitment. Please call our firm if you are in need of paternity representation.