The Putative Father Registry in Indiana
Under most circumstances, when a child is placed for adoption in Indiana both biological parents need to provide consent. However, when adoption papers are filed for a child whose paternity has not been established, they could be placed for adoption without the consent of the father. Obviously, this could prove to be quite a tragic event for some. Thankfully, legislators recognized this and established a putative father registry. This allows a man who may be the biological father of a child to register with putative father registry in Indiana and receive notification if/when a petition for adoption is filed.
If you are currently amid a paternity dispute or facing difficulties with establishing paternity in Indiana, the Indiana paternity lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer LLP are available to assist you. Our team understands full well the importance that fathers play in a child’s life and are passionate about helping forge those bonds. On top of that, our team of Indiana family lawyers have a strong understanding of paternity laws and how family courts operate, all around the state of Indiana. Ultimately, our goal is to secure the best possible outcome for our clients, while keeping them informed and involved all throughout the process.
What is a Putative Father?
When people first hear the phrase, “putative father,” they often have no idea what it means. That’s perfectly understandable, as it’s largely a legal term, confined to the realm of adoption law. However, as defined in Indiana Code 31-19-3-4, a putative father is “a person who is named as or claims that he may be the father of a child born out of wedlock but who has not yet been legally proven to be the child’s father.”
It’s important to understand that, under the definition provided in Indiana law, a mother, as well as the alleged father, may make a putative father claim. In other words, if a mother believes that a man is the biological father to her child, she may name him as the putative father.
What is the Putative Father Registry in Indiana?
The main purpose of the putative father registry in Indiana, as set forth in Indiana Code 31-19-5-3, is to locate and notify a putative father whose information has not been disclosed by the mother of a child, on or before the date the mother executes a consent to the child’s adoption. For some, this notification is critical, as it may allow them the ability to contest the potential adoption of the alleged child.
How to Register with the Putative Father Registry
To register as a putative father, one would need to fill out, sign and notarize the Indiana Putative Father Registration Form, and then send it into the Indiana putative father registry at the Indiana State Department of Health. The registration form requires the father to provide the following information:
- City, State, Zip Code
- Social Security Number
- Date of Birth
- The Mother’s Name, Address, Social Security Number, and Date of Birth (if known)
- The Child’s name, date of birth, and place of birth (if known)
In addition, for putative fathers without a consistent address, the registration form allows for the registrant to name a designated agent. This person would then be the recipient of the notification of an adoption.
Putative Father’s Rights in Indiana
As stated in Indiana Code 31-19-5-4, anyone who registers with the putative father registry in Indiana is entitled to notice of their (alleged) child’s adoption. This is the extent of the rights granted to registrants under Indiana law. However, it’s still possible for a registered putative father to take action against an adoption filing in Indiana.
Per Indiana Code 31-19-9-1, a petition to adopt a child, born out of wedlock, may only be granted if written consent has been executed by the biological mother AND biological father, if the father’s paternity has been established by a paternity affidavit or a court proceeding. In other words, a putative father may be able to give non-consent to an adoption if they’ve registered with the putative father registry in Indiana AND have filed a paternity action under Indiana Code 31-14-5.
Filing a Paternity Action in Indiana
If a father, registered with the putative father registry in Indiana, has been notified that adoption papers have been filed for their alleged child, they’ll need to file a paternity action in order to contest the adoption. The timeline for filing a paternity action is within two years of the child’s birth date. However, this window may be waived if the two parents are in agreement over paternity. In addition, the window may be extended under certain circumstances, including:
- Explicit acknowledgment of paternity has been made in writing
- The father was ruled incompetent at the time of the child’s birth
- The putative father has provided child support
- A summons was not able to be served to their mother or putative father during the two-year window
When a putative father files an action to establish paternity in Indiana, the court shall set a hearing date and notify both parties. At the hearing, both sides may either agree or disagree on the paternity filing. If they disagree, one party may request genetic testing. In the event that the court does in fact grant paternity, the putative father will then gain parental rights in Indiana, thus allowing them the ability to contest the adoption.
Questions About the Putative Father Registry in Indiana?
Adding your name to the putative father registry in Indiana is the first step you’ll want to take towards gaining your parental rights in Indiana. However, there’s much more that needs to be done when it comes to establishing paternity and ensuring that you have a say in your child’s upbringing. To navigate family court and secure the outcome you desire, you’ll want to have an experienced and skilled Indiana family law attorney by your side. The paternity lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer LLP fully understand the legal landscape regarding matters of this nature and are available for a free consultation. Our team can help you understand everything that needs to be done to establish paternity, and if needed, represent you in any subsequent proceedings. To speak with a paternity lawyer today, call 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.