paternity attorneys

Paternity Attorney in Indianapolis

Establishing Paternity

If a man or woman disputes the identity of the biological father of a child, they may seek to establish paternity. Establishing paternity is the legal process of determining that a man is a child’s biological subject to all rights and obligations that come with it. 

Indiana Paternity Laws

indiana lawIn Indiana, if a man and woman are married when they have a child, it is assumed the man is the father.

Otherwise, a parent can establish paternity in Indiana in the following ways: 

Paternity Affidavit

An Indiana paternity affidavit can be filed by the unwed mother and father of a child at the time of birth Normally, an official at the hospital where the child is born will provide a Paternity Affidavit for signature.  The Paternity Affidavit recites consequences and alternatives as well as the rights and responsibilities of the parents.  Presently, a Paternity Affidavit also provides provisions for the parents to choose to share or reject sharing joint legal custody.  A copy of an executed  Paternity Affidavit may be obtained at the county health department where the child was born.  By way of  illustration, a blank Paternity Affidavit follows this section.

After the 60 days, a paternity affidavit can only be withdrawn with proof of fraud, duress, or mistake of fact. Completing a paternity affidavit incorrectly can lead to legal problems, so working with an experienced paternity lawyer is wise.

Court Order

filing paternityEither a mother or a putative father may file an action in the court of jurisdiction to determine paternity.  At a hearing, the Court may, if requested to do so, address among other things, the issues of custody, child support, parenting time, health insurance, and tax credits.  The court sets a date for a hearing and may order genetic testing to determine paternity.

If the court makes an affirmative determination of paternity, it issues a decree establishing paternity, conferring parental rights and responsibilities under Indiana law.  

Genetic Testing Requirements

A parent, the court, or a county child support office may request DNA testing. These simple tests are performed at the Indiana State Department of Health, regional health departments, or other accredited labs. The process includes swabbing the mouths of the mother, child, and purported father. 

How Long Does a Father Have to Establish Paternity? 

While most parents file paternity affidavits within 72 hours of a child’s birth, you may file a Paternity Affidavit any time before the child is emancipated. A parent must file a court order to establish paternity within two years of the child’s birth. However, there are exceptions to the two-year time limitation for filing a paternity petition in Indiana.

Does an Unmarried Father Have Rights Once He Establishes Paternity?

If you establish paternity, you have all the rights of a legal father is recognized, including, but not limited to:

  • Spending time with your child and establishing a relationship through parenting time and/or custody
  • Making decisions about your child’s health, education, childcare, and other issues 
  • Choosing a school or educational path
  • Having a say in their religious practice

These measures serve the child’s best interests and allow the biological father to participate in their upbringing.

Why Establishing Paternity is Important

paternity responsibilitiesEstablishing paternity can be crucial when it comes to the lives of a child and their parents, whether you are a man who wants to prove you are the biological father or a mother seeking child support. It is also beneficial for the child. Unless paternity is formally established by marriage, affidavit, or court order, the mother has sole custody rights over the child. However, establishing legal paternity bestows the Indiana paternity rights for fathers listed above.

Establishing paternity also initiates paternal responsibilities, under Indiana regulations including:  

  • Providing food, clothing, shelter 
  • Supplying financial support
  • Furnishing a safe, emotionally healthy environment
  • Health insurance and medical costs
  • Arranging childcare  
  • Funding education  

When called upon to do so, courts determine how rights and duties are allocated between unmarried or non-cohabiting parents based on Indiana guidelines and case specifics. An attorney like Cindy L. Kenworthy, P.C. can help ensure your best interests and those of your child are represented. 

Finally, establishing paternity may assist children in obtaining the benefits:

  • Accessing life and health insurance benefits
  • Qualifying for inheritance  
  • Obtaining Social Security and veterans benefits

paternity lawGiven the lifelong impact on families, those with undetermined paternity should immediately consult an attorney to define their legal status, and that of their child.

How Cindy L. Kenworthy, P.C. Can Help 

Family law can be very emotional, especially paternity law. Paternity affects the lives of children and their parents. Establishing paternity determines the legal rights, responsibilities, and privileges of everyone involved. Paternity cases can be complex, so you should work with one of the most knowledgeable paternity attorneys. Cindy L. Kenworthy, P.C. provides trustworthy, compassionate representation for paternity cases. Contact Cindy L. Kenworthy today at (317)-516-0515.