Not every relationship ends happily ever after, and it is not unusual for unmarried parents to break up, leaving themselves in a bind. While they both may want a relationship with their child, paternity needs to be established before a mother can seek child support or a father can seek visitation or child custody rights.
There are two ways unmarried parents can establish paternity in Indiana: a paternity affidavit or a court order.
What is a paternity affidavit?
A paternity affidavit is a legal document in which both parties acknowledge that the man is the child’s biological parent. This establishes paternity, along with all the accompanying rights and responsibilities.
Paternity affidavits are available at the hospital when the child is born. If you do not complete one then, you can obtain a paternity affidavit at your local health department.
Court orders establishing paternity
You can also establish paternity through a court order. Either parent can seek a court order to determine paternity. A hearing will be held, and often genetic testing will be ordered. Often this is done by a simple cheek swab.
Once the results of the genetic test are available, the court can order that the child’s father is the child’s biological parent along with all rights and responsibilities that entails.
It is important to establish paternity
Establishing paternity benefits the child in many ways. Emotionally, it can help a child connect with both parents as well as gain a sense of self-identity. Establishing paternity also offers financial benefits, including:
- Child support
- Inheritance rights
- Health insurance coverage
In addition, fathers who establish paternity can seek visitation or custody of their child. For all these reasons, many parents in Indianapolis choose to legally establish paternity, for the benefit of their child.