Indiana law distinguishes between a biological father and a legally recognized father. Simply fathering a child does not automatically give one the rights of a parent. Indiana law puts a large amount of emphasis on whether the parents of the child were married at the time of birth, or whether the parents ended up getting married after the birth of the child.
A Child Born Within the Confines of a Marriage
Under Indiana law, if a child is born to a woman who is married or who was married within 300 days of the ending of a marriage, the law presumes that the father of the child is the husband. The law considers what is in the best interest of the child. Thus, if a mother gives birth to a child within a marriage and the father is not the husband, it is crucial that action is taken immediately. Otherwise, the court may refuse to give the biological father rights in the life of the child.
If you are the father of a child who was born to a woman while she was married to another man, it is imperative that you take action immediately. In asserting your paternity rights, the help of an experienced family law attorney could make all the difference. Therefore, it is important that you contact an attorney so that they may help you with your case. To learn more about the rights of unmarried fathers, click here.
If you are the other man in this situation, in other words, if you know or think that your wife had a child during your marriage with another man, you may need to consider your rights as well. You may want an attorney on your side to ensure that your rights are protected.
A Child Born Outside the Confines of a Marriage
In Indiana, if the mother is unmarried at the time of the birth of a child, paternity is established by the execution of an affidavit at the hospital. Therefore, a father may voluntarily declare his child as his within 72 hours of birth. Then, if both parents sign the declaration, the father’s name is placed on the birth certificate. Each of the parties must first review the affidavit alone or separately in order to avoid undue influence.
Custody and Visitation
When it comes to asserting paternal rights, such as getting custody of a child or merely getting visitation, asserting your rights is key. Parents who are married share the rights to the child equally. However, if the parents of a child are not married, rights become more complicated. If the mother of the child is unmarried, the father must initiate a court proceeding to legitimize the child in order to assert rights such as visitation and custody. Without the procedure, the mother holds total control of the child and, as such, can deny the father the opportunity to see the child if she so chooses, at least until the court recognizes the father.
While a father must legitimize his rights before he is given any legally recognized right to visit the child or share custody, a mother may demand child support without such legitimization.
What Should You Do?
If you or someone you know is struggling with the issue of paternity and the rights that accompany the father of a child, contacting an experienced attorney is an important first step. Christopher Arrington can help you with your case and ensure you are given all the rights that you deserve.