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What rights and responsibilities do Indiana fathers have?

On Behalf of | May 29, 2024 | Fathers' Rights

Becoming a father is a potentially life-changing experience. Fathers may feel an intense bond with their children that only grows with time. They also have many responsibilities that come with fatherhood.

Indiana law extends both rights and obligations to fathers. In some cases, those rights and obligations are automatic, but at other times, people must know their rights to make use of them. Many men, especially unmarried fathers, may struggle to understand what rights and responsibilities they have under state law.

What do fathers need to know about their obligations to their child and their rights as parents?

Fathers have both parental rights and responsibilities

Indiana extends the same rights to all parents in theory, as the law does not differentiate between mothers and fathers. Parentage comes with certain rights. Both fathers and mothers can theoretically seek parenting time and a portion of legal decision-making authority while their children are still minors. There may also be financial obligations if the parents do not live together. The parent who earns more or has less parenting time may need to make regular child support payments.

Married fathers have automatic rights when either parent files for divorce, but unmarried fathers may need to assert themselves to establish their rights. They may need to prove they are fathers to the state to ask for time with their children and a say in their upbringing.

Fathers have the right to establish paternity

Married fathers benefit from a presumption of paternity when their wives give birth. Unmarried fathers have to establish paternity to make use of their rights as fathers. They can acknowledge their paternity voluntarily by filling out paperwork with the mothers of their children. When the mother of a child does not wish to cooperate and acknowledge a man as the father, he can ask the courts to order paternity testing, which can help establish his relationship to the child.

Someone who has established paternity then has the responsibilities of fatherhood, including financial support obligations. They also have the right to ask for parenting time and authority over decisions regarding the upbringing of their child.

Understanding the rights and responsibilities that fathers have in Indiana can help men who must navigate a complex family situation. Those who establish paternity have the same rights as married fathers and mothers theoretically do, provided they validate their relationships and take appropriate action in family court.

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