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How is child custody impacted by a paternity case in Indiana?

On Behalf of | Apr 28, 2022 | Family Law |

In an Indiana child custody case, there are myriad considerations that enter the equation. A situation that might complicate matters is if the parents are uncertain of or there is a disagreement regarding the child’s paternity. In addition to the basics of daily life such as medical coverage, rights to an inheritance and providing support in other ways, a child custody case will be made more difficult if the paternity is in question. Knowing how the state handles these delicate cases is key.

The three types of custody and how paternity factors in

There are three types of child custody arrangements with paternity at issue in Indiana. They are physical custody, legal custody and joint legal custody. The mother will have primary physical custody under the first scenario. Legal custody will grant sole legal custody to the mother except in cases where: a paternity affidavit was signed after July 1, 2010; the parents agree to have joint legal custody; and they follow the requirements to have joint legal custody. With legal custody, the parent has the right to make all decisions on the child’s behalf and is granted access to medical and school records.

Joint legal custody is the most complex in a paternity case. The parents must agree to it; they must sign all the necessary papers; they will have testing to determine paternity and show that the man is the biological father; and they will submit the information within 60 days after the child was born. Failure to submit in time will nullify the agreement and give the mother sole legal custody. Still, the paternity test identifying the biological father will be valid.

Establishing paternity can protect everyone and help with a fair result

Knowing who the father is benefits a child by allowing them to forge an emotional bond with the parent and vice versa. It will also be a substantial part of creating and maintaining a relationship between father and child. Paternity is established if a man and woman are married when the child is born or if the child is born fewer than 300 days after the end of the marriage. In some situations, the husband claims that he is not the biological father and testing must be done to determine the father’s identity. The presumed father can also sign a paternity affidavit. In some paternity-based family law cases, the presumed parents agree and have no trouble forging a workable agreement. In others, it is more complicated. To ensure the law is followed with paternity and a reasonable and legal outcome is achieved, having professional assistance may be imperative.