Fathers in Indiana have parental rights in regard to their biological children. This is true regardless of whether or not you are married to your children's mother. However, we at Robert Schembs know that the law makes different assumptions as to the paternity of children born out of wedlock than of those born within it. If you and the mother of your children have never married, you must take legal steps to establish paternity of your children in order to protect your parental rights in the event of a split between you and your significant other. It is best to do this as soon as possible after the child's birth to avoid future difficulties in family court.
According to Consumer Affairs, it is usually not necessary for you to submit to a DNA test and prove your biological link to your children in order to establish paternity. Only in cases in which the paternity of the child is in doubt does the court require such drastic measures. If you and your significant other both acknowledge that you are the father of the child, all you have to do is sign a legal document attesting to the fact.
Establishing paternity is one of the most important steps to safeguarding your parental rights in the case of a dispute over custody or visitation. However, there are other potential benefits. In the event that you and your significant other do split up someday, established paternity grants you the right to seek child support. Even in the intended and hoped-for event that you and your children's mother stay together forever, establishing legal paternity may help to strengthen the familial bond between you and your children. More information about paternity and fathers' rights is available on our website.