Whether stemming from divorces or unwed situations, child custody can be complex and difficult to determine. Indiana's child custody laws rely on a number of factors, and the court may give parents physical custody or legal custody.
Indiana also holds divides custody into sole custody and joint custody, where sole custody allows a single parent to oversee a child, and joint custody allows both parents to be involved. The court also determines other factors, including the child's age and sex and the child's interests. Along with establishing paternity, the court considers these factors before deciding the rights of the child's father.
The Indiana Department of Child Services defines some of the complex set of rules associated with child custody. According to the DCS, making a father-child relationship from the beginning can provide a greater opportunity for a healthy relationship and can insure the father's rights to a relationship with his child. The DCS also points out that legal fathers have the same rights as legal mothers, including those related to custody or parenting time. An individual may opt for a DNA test to best confirm parental status. Under law, a man is a child's legal father if he and his wife are married when the child is born or if the child is born no later than 300 days after the marriage ends.
Custody X Change, a website providing software and other resources to assist divorced and separated parents, states that once individuals establish paternity, a father is obligated and entitled to certain parental and custodial rights. The father has the right to visitation with the child and may be involved in the child's life. Although the law states that the parental rights are the same for fathers and mothers, many fathers find that their parental rights diminish after the court ruling.