Custody isn’t just an issue for married parents going through a divorce. It can also be a significant issue in cases where the parents of a child never married. Some men mistakenly think that if they didn’t marry the mother of their child that they don’t have the right to seek custody or visitation. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The state of Indiana recognizes the critical role that a father can play in the life of his child. Regardless of the circumstances between you and the mother of the child, you could be a positive role model and help provide support and happiness.
In order to do so, however, you need to establish yourself as the biological father of your child. Establishing paternity in Indiana may take a little bit of effort, but the result is the right to play a more significant role in the life of your child.
How is paternity typically established?
For most children born in Indiana, disclosures by the parents will be the only thing necessary for accurate paternity information on the birth certificate. A child born during a marriage or within 300 days of the dissolution of a marriage is presumptively the child of the husband from the marriage unless the parents execute an affidavit indicating that is not the case.
It is also common for unmarried couples to have the mother acknowledge the father at the time of birth by adding his name to the birth certificate. If your ex has not extended this courtesy to you, you may need to ask them to affirm your paternity well after the birth of your child.
A paternity affidavit can add you to the birth certificate
Provided that both parents agree that the man is the biological father of the child, they can fill out and sign a special form called a paternity affidavit form. In it, both parents acknowledge that they have every reason to believe that the father listed on the form is the biological parent of the child.
The proper execution of this document can lead to the addition of the father’s name to the birth certificate and the formal establishment of his parental rights to visitation or custody, as well as parental obligations, such as child support.
A court order and genetic tests may be necessary
If the mother does not agree to acknowledge your paternity or if there is a possibility that someone else is the biological father, you may need to ask the Indiana courts to order a paternity test. Genetic testing can clearly show whether there is a biological link between the two subjects who submit samples. If the test shows that the child is your biological offspring, you will then have the right to seek custody or visitation.