Dedicated Family Law Attorneys
Indiana Paternity Lawyer
When paternity is uncertain or not legally established, family law cases gain a new layer of complexity. Establishing paternity in Indiana is essential to determine the rights and responsibilities of both parents. Mothers and alleged or putative fathers who need help with paternity matters in Indiana can trust an Indiana paternity lawyer from Keffer Hirschauer LLP to help them navigate these difficult and important legal questions.
Who Needs an Indiana Paternity Lawyer?
The question of paternity—determining and formally establishing the identity of a child’s legal father—can arise in various situations. Sometimes a mother wishes to prove paternity to secure support for the child or children. When fathers seek a legal determination of paternity, it is often to gain parental or custodial rights. And both parents might wish to establish paternity to enable the father and child to better develop a family bond.
When an unwed couple has a child, legally establishing paternity as soon as possible is vital. This is true whether the mother and father are in a committed relationship or not and regardless of whether the relationship is amicable. Without the legal recognition of paternity, parents have no access to the courts to resolve issues related to Indiana paternity rights, including child custody, parenting time, and child support.
A child deserves the right to bond with both parents, and establishing paternity goes a long way in making this happen. At Keffer Hirschauer LLP, you’ll find an Indiana paternity lawyer who is dedicated to helping parents find the answers for which they are searching.
If you have questions regarding paternity, call the family law attorneys at the Indianapolis law firm of Keffer Hirschauer LLP at (317) 857-0160 to discuss your situation in a free case review.
Establishing Paternity in Indiana
Establishing paternity in Indiana can occur in several ways, including:
- The father is married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth
- The father was married to the mother within the 300 days prior to the child’s birth
- An unwed mother and father sign and submit a paternity affidavit to the court
- A court with jurisdiction determines paternity, with or without genetic DNA testing
When a mother and father are married at the time of a child’s birth and their names are each placed on the birth certificate, they become legal parents and have equal rights and responsibilities under the law. For children born out of wedlock, or cases in which paternity is in dispute, designating Indiana paternity rights and responsibilities becomes more complicated and requires specific legal action. An experienced Indiana paternity lawyer can help you navigate the legal issues surrounding paternity cases in Indiana.
Indiana Paternity Affidavits
An Indiana paternity affidavit can be filed by the unwed mother and father of a child at the time of birth or any time while the child is still a minor unless another person is listed as the child’s father on the birth certificate. A mother does not have the right to rescind a paternity affidavit, while a father listed on the document can request the annulment of the document within 60 days after signing. Either parent must make this request to the court of jurisdiction, and the court may require DNA testing to verify the claim.
After the 60-day period, a paternity affidavit can only be withdrawn with proof of fraud, duress, or mistake of fact. A woman who submits an affidavit claiming a man is the father of her child when she knows this is not the case can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor.
A paternity affidavit that is properly completed and submitted conveys the rights and responsibilities of parenthood upon the named father, including the obligations of care under Indiana child support laws. This document also contains areas in which the parents must select options regarding the legal and physical custody of the child.
The paternity affidavit is a legal document with very specific requirements for completion, attachments, signing, and submission. There is a lot at stake when you complete this document. An experienced Indiana paternity lawyer can help you complete and submit the Indiana paternity affidavit fully and correctly so you can avoid legal problems that could arise from errors in the process.
Establishing Paternity in Indiana by Court Order
When a mother alleges paternity and the named father does not agree, the mother may file an action in the court of jurisdiction to determine paternity. This action must be taken within the alleged father’s lifetime or five months of his death. The putative father of a child whose mother claims he is not the child’s father can also file a claim in court. Alternatively, a child can file an action for paternal determination on his or her own behalf. And, in some cases, when a mother applies for public assistance for her child for example, Indiana’s Title IV-D Child Support Program, sometimes through the local prosecutor’s office, will file a paternity action.
When a paternity action is filed in Indiana, the court sets a date for a hearing and notifies the parties to appear on that date. A mother or putative father who disagrees on paternity or related issues is well-served to have representation from an experienced Indiana paternity lawyer in these proceedings. At the hearing, the mother and alleged father can agree on paternity. If they do not agree, one of them may request genetic testing. Another possibility is that the court can hear evidence and determine whether or not to order genetic testing to determine if the man is the biological father of the child. If the court orders genetic testing, it must be done by an accredited laboratory. Paternity testing performed elsewhere is not admissible.
If the court makes an affirmative determination of paternity, it issues a decree establishing paternity, which confers parental rights under Indiana law. The court will also decide the legal and physical custody arrangements under Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines and each parent’s financial responsibility for the child under Indiana child support laws. The court may order a father’s financial support to start retroactively to the date the paternity case was filed or even back to the child’s date of birth.
How Long Does a Father Have to Establish Paternity in Indiana?
The answer to the question, “How long does a father have to establish paternity in Indiana?” depends greatly on the specifics of the situation. If paternity is not established by marriage or joint filing of a paternity affidavit at birth, any action filed by the mother or the putative father to legally declare paternity must occur within two years of the child’s birth.
However, there are exceptions to the time limitation for filing a paternity action in Indiana. The mother and father can waive the time limitation and jointly file a paternity affidavit with the Indiana State Department of Health before the child is no longer a minor. If the mother and alleged father are not in agreement to file, the limitation period for filing a paternity action can be extended by the following conditions:
- The putative father has provided support for the child
- Paternity has been acknowledged in writing
- The putative father was incompetent at the time of the child’s birth
- Either the mother or alleged father could not be served with summons within the two-year period
In the cases with these exceptions, a petition to establish paternity must be filed within two years of the end of the relevant condition.
After paternity is established, a number of issues need to be addressed. These issues could involve the father seeking child custody or parenting time, the mother seeking child support, or a range of other questions related to Indiana paternity rights and obligations.
Don’t delay and miss the chance to establish paternity. An attorney experienced in paternity matters can help you determine the deadline for filing to establish paternity and whether any circumstances apply to extend the time limit. An Indiana paternity lawyer from Keffer Hirschauer LLP can assist in these legal matters to help individuals reach favorable resolutions. Establishing paternity is a necessary first step in resolving any other legal matters your family is facing.
Why Establishing Paternity in Indiana Is Important
Unless Indiana paternity rights are legally established by marriage, in a paternity affidavit, or by court order, the mother of a child has the right to sole custody (with a few potential exceptions due to protective orders or the needs and best interests of the child). However, establishing paternity in Indiana bestows the following Indiana paternity rights:
- Custody and visitation
- Establishing and maintaining a healthy parent-child relationship
- Discipline of the child
- Making decisions about healthcare and medical issues
- Making decisions regarding where the child attends school
- Determination concerning the child’s place of residence
- Making decisions about religious training and affiliations
- Access to medical, school, and other private records
In addition to these Indiana paternity rights, being designated a legal father of a child also involves significant responsibilities. Under Indiana child support laws and other regulations, a father is obligated to provide for the child’s needs, including the following:
- Financial support
- Safe environment
- Emotional well-being
- Health insurance and medical care
The extent to which these rights and responsibilities are applied to and divided between a mother and father who are not married or do not reside in the same home is determined by the courts. The courts in Indiana use the Indiana Child Support Rules and Guidelines, along with the details of the specific situation, to make these determinations and issue a court order accordingly. With a skilled Indiana paternity lawyer on your side, you’ll have someone fighting for your best interests and those of your child.
Finally, a legal determination of paternity also affords certain rights to a child relating to the legal father, including the following:
- Life and health insurance benefits
- Inheritance rights
- Social Security benefits as a dependent or survivor of the father
- Veteran’s benefits as a dependent or survivor of the father
A legal determination of paternity has a significant impact on all members of a family throughout their lifetimes. Those in situations involving undetermined paternity should contact the family law attorneys of the Indianapolis-based law firm of Keffer Hirschauer LLP as soon as possible to get help finding the best way to clarify and define their family structure under the law.
Consult with an Indiana Paternity Lawyer Today
During your free case evaluation, we will discuss your options for establishing paternity in Indiana and explain the legal matters that may arise after the fact. We will explain your rights and what you can expect throughout the process. At Keffer Hirschauer LLP, we are known as skilled litigators who pursue the best possible results for every client.
When you work with us, you will have the experience and knowledge of a committed Indiana paternity lawyer on your side. Call us today at (317) 857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.
We are ready to utilize our experience on behalf of our clients; we want to help you, too. To speak with an Indiana paternity lawyer, call Keffer Hirschauer LLP at (317) 857-0160 today.