Paternity

Overview

When a child is born outside of marriage, many parents have questions regarding their rights and responsibilities.  Paternity is the legal cause of action used to establish the identity of the biological father. The person wanting to establish Paternity can either be the Mother, Father, or child, depending on the individual desires of the parties involved.  

When a child is born outside of marriage, many parents have questions regarding their rights and responsibilities.  Paternity is the legal cause of action used to establish the identity of the biological father. The person wanting to establish Paternity can either be the Mother, Father, or child, depending on the individual desires of the parties involved.  

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Questions such as, how do I make sure I can have access to my child, when or how does child support start, who decides where the child goes to the doctor and who gets to claim the child on taxes always arise and are usually best addressed first. Sometimes, however, that is not possible to seek legal advice prior to a baby’s birth and you may be faced with making tough decisions in a short period of time. Such as, should I sign a Putative Father Affidavit if I’m not 100% certain the child is mine, and if I don’t sign what can happen? What does Legal custody mean? What is the normal amount of parenting time a parent should have with the child?

Does it matter how old the child is or how many children we have together?   Custody of a child can either be awarded to the Father or the Mother in Paternity actions, depending on the facts. Mothers receive custody more often but Fathers are being awarded custody under certain circumstances. The Parties may also sign an agreement addressing this issue that the Court may consider in awarding custody. Generally, the same rules that apply to child support in divorce actions also apply to child support in Paternity actions. Either party can be ordered to pay child support to the other. What is different, however, is that courts can also award back child support relating back to the date of birth, including the Mother’s birthing expenses or for a specific number of years. The Parties may also sign an agreement providing for the payment of child support to be approved by the Court. The consequences of establishing paternity or not establishing paternity can be significant and you should know what your rights are as a parent.  There is a specific period of time in Indiana that you can file for a paternity action and delaying in filing a paternity action can result in a loss of your rights as well as precious time with the child.

5 Reasons To Establish Paternity:


Identity:
To provide the child with a needed identity.

Health: It is important to know the health history of both the Mother and Father for medical care and treatment of the child.

Support and Public Assistance: It takes two to fairly support a child in today’s world to the extent of their ability.  In some cases, in order to receive any public assistance

Benefits: Establishing Paternity allows the child to be covered by health insurance, social security, inheritance and veteran’s benefits.

Inheritance: Establishing paternity may entitle such child by succession, inheritance or distribution, to take real and personal property by, through, and from his or her father and mother.

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The consequences of establishing paternity or not establishing paternity can be significant and you should know what your rights are as a parent.