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Indianapolis Paternity Lawyer
At Eskew Law, our Indianapolis paternity lawyer fully understands Indiana law and recognizes that parents are afforded legal rights and responsibilities regarding the care of their children. Oftentimes, paternity needs to be established before bestowing the rights and obligations of parenthood upon a father.
Establishing paternity may involve testing and court procedures. Once paternity is established, the father can pursue his rights, relinquish his rights, or be ordered by the court to pay child support. Establishing paternity allows for a child to be fully cared for by both parents and to receive the basic needs required for his or her upbringing, such as food, shelter, and education.
If you believe you have rights as a biological father and want to pursue those rights or if you are disputing the paternity of a child, you need a skilled Indianapolis family law legal practitioner to evaluate your situation, advise you on how to proceed, and advocate for your side in court. Alternatively, if you seek to establish the paternity of your child, our Indiana paternity lawyer can help.
To learn more about the law and your rights, contact Eskew Law today. Our family law litigators can assist you with paternity, child custody and visitation, and child support issues. To schedule a consultation, call us.
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In What Situations Might You Want to Establish Paternity?
If paternity is not presumed, there are several situations in which the mother or alleged father may want to pursue a paternity action.
● A mother seeks child support for a child and the person she believes is the father believes another man fathered the child;
● A father seeks visitation with a child he believes to be his biological child but is being denied visitation by the child’s mother;
● Understanding a child’s medical history; and
● Paving the way for a meaningful father-child relationship.
At Eskew Law, regardless of why you want to pursue a paternity action, our skilled Indiana paternity attorney can help.
The first thing to understand about Indiana paternity laws is that when a married woman gives birth to a child the Indiana paternity statute
law presumes that the mother’s husband is the biological father of the child. In addition, if a couple separates or files for divorce and a child is born less than 300 days later, the ex-husband is presumed to be the father. Therefore, he is given legal rights and has an equal say in the care and upbringing of the child, unless the presumption is rebutted.
However, in some situations, a husband is not the biological father and may contest paternity. In other situations, the purported parents are not a couple. Therefore, the court intervenes to determine paternity. To do so, courts rely on Indiana paternity laws.
The first way to establish paternity is to file a paternity affidavit under Indiana Code § 16-37-2-2.1. A paternity affidavit is a declaration, signed by both the man and woman, that the man is the biological father. Usually, this affidavit is done at the hospital after the child is born, though it can be executed at any time while the child is a minor. Once the affidavit is signed and submitted to the Indiana State Department of Health, the man will be listed as the father on the birth certificate. Of course, if paternity is contested, it is unlikely that both parties will agree to sign the affidavit. Thus, for most people seeking to establish paternity, this option is of little help.
If the man contests paternity or if the parties are unsure, one of the parties may initiate a paternity action with the court, and the court can order the parties to determine paternity. This can be done through agreement but is more commonly done through genetic testing. An accredited laboratory will swab both the child and father for DNA to determine if there is a match. Generally, the results of the DNA test will then be admitted into evidence. However, a party may object to the admissibility of DNA evidence, provided they do so within 30 days of the scheduled hearing. If they fail to raise an objection, the DNA evidence is admissible. If the DNA test confirms the man is the child’s biological father, he receives all rights and responsibilities of parenting.
Indiana paternity law also provides for a “rebuttable presumption of paternity” if a man who is not presumed to be a child’s biological father receives the child into his home and holds the child out as his biological child. While this will not necessarily result in the man being awarded paternity, it shifts the burden onto the other party to prove that the man should not be named as the child’s father.
How Long Do You Have to Establish Paternity?
Under Indiana Code § 3-14-5-3, a party seeking to establish paternity must file an action within two years of the child’s birth unless one of the following situations apply:
● Both the mother and alleged father agree to waive the timing requirement and file jointly;
● The alleged father has been providing support to the child, either voluntarily or through an agreement with the mother, a person acting on the mother’s behalf, or a person acting on the child’s behalf;
● The mother (or prosecuting attorney) files a petition after the alleged father acknowledged in writing that he is the child’s biological father;
● The alleged father files a petition after the child’s mother acknowledged in writing that he is the child’s biological father;
● The person bringing the action was legally incompetent at the time of the child’s birth; or
● The party against whom the action is filed was unable to be served with a summons during the two-year period.
If any of these circumstances exist, a person has two years from the date the circumstance no longer exists to file an action for paternity.
Parental Rights and Responsibilities
If paternity is established, your parental rights may include:
● Medical decisions and health insurance
● Education and schooling
● Discipline (within reason)
● Housing type and location
● Extracurricular activities
● Time with the child through custody or visitation
Fathers may also be tasked with the financial and emotional needs of the child, which include:
● To know that the parents’ decision to live apart is not the child’s fault
● To develop and maintain an independent relationship with each parent and to have the continuing care and guidance from each parent
● To be free from having to side with either parent and to be free from conflict between the parents
● To have a relaxed, secure relationship with each parent without being placed in a position to manipulate one parent against the other
● To enjoy regular and consistent time with each parent
● To be financially supported by each parent, regardless of how much time each parent spends with the child
● To be physically safe and adequately supervised when in the care of each parent and to have a stable, consistent, and responsible child care arrangement when not supervised by a parent
● To develop and maintain meaningful relationships with other significant adults (grandparents, stepparents, and other relatives) as long as these relationships do not interfere with or replace the child’s primary relationship with the parents
For additional information regarding your parental rights, you may wish to speak with an acclaimed Indianapolis paternity attorney. In addition to your rights, you also take on certain responsibilities, which include:
● Providing basic necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter; and
● Financially contributing toward the costs of raising the child, often through child support
Contact an Indiana Paternity Law Firm for Guidance on Paternity Issues
If you live within the Central Indiana area and need assistance with determining paternity or if you would like to dispute paternity, contact Eskew Law. An experienced paternity lawyer in Indianapolis at Eskew Law can help you begin the process, complete the proper paperwork, and understand your options. We take this privilege and responsibility seriously for each and every one of our clients. To schedule an initial consultation, call Eskew Law or contact us online.
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