When it comes to children, there can be no doubts as to who the biological parents are. If you are a male and believe a child is yours or if you are a mother of a child whose father is denying his role, what can you do? The way you confirm true biological parents is through establishing paternity. A signature on a birth certificate is not legally recognized as proof of paternity in cases in which the male who signs is not legally married to the mother. A signature is only legally recognized as a valid parent when two parents are married at the time of the birth of the baby.
How is Paternity Established?
There are two ways to accomplish establishing paternity, and they are:
- Both parents sign a paternity affidavit, or
- Through a paternity case filed in court
If a paternity case goes to court, it does so by specific persons who are authorized to file, and they include:
- The mother (or a pregnant woman).
- The man who thinks he is the father of a child.
- The mother (or a pregnant woman) and father together.
- The child.
- The division of family and children.
- The prosecuting attorney.
There is a two-year window to file a paternity case from the date of birth of the child. However, there are quite a few exceptions to this rule along with other subset exceptions, making the process quite complicated. An experienced Indiana paternity attorney is invaluable when you want to successfully file for paternity.
A mother who gives birth to her child and does not want to establish paternity has the right not to do it. However, obtaining child support will be difficult if no paternity is confirmed. If you are receiving Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF), you may have to file to obtain your child support order. That being said, if the father wants to file, he can. Should a civil suit ensue and a paternity test is ordered, the mother is required to comply.
Conversely, if a mother files for a test and the alleged father refuses, he could be held in contempt of court. The result is potential criminal charges or fines. The other outcome would be that the court will order him to pay child support.
In cases in which the father dies but the mother wants to file, she has five months from his death to do so. Benefits a child can receive in this unfortunate circumstance include inheritance and social security from any time the father accrued it while working.
What Happens After Paternity is Established?
The courts will issue orders pertaining to custody, child support, and visitation. Additionally, the court may legally change the child’s last name to that of the father. Child support is dependent on when the court deems it due. Meaning a child support order against the father can be from the date the paternity case was filed to as early as the date the child was born.
As far as custody in unmarried couples, it is the mother who retains this role unless a court issues an order stating otherwise. Should there be no custody order issued, the mother keeps custody. This is true even when a father has signed a custody affidavit.
As a father who wants parental rights, filing for paternity is the way to go. Registering with the “putative father’s registry” is also highly advised. Through this filing, you are able to get notified of any potential adoption circumstances that could arise. Time matters, so registering with this outlet should be done immediately.
Are You Dealing With a Paternity’s Issue in Indiana?
Christopher L. Arrington, P.C. is a resourceful Danville Paternity attorney who will help protect your legal rights when it comes to your children’s welfare.
If you need effective legal representation, call my Danville child support and paternity law firm at 317-745-4494 today so we can discuss your family’s situation during a free consultation.