Many are under the impression that only the mother or the Prosecutor may file for a paternity determination. This is not true. If you are a father and want to establish paternity you should consider filing for paternity before the child’s second birthday. While filing after that time is possible, you may face some legal hurdles that you avoid by filing before the second birthday. You can file the action in the county in which you, the child or the mother reside. Under Indiana law if you properly signed a paternity affidavit in the past few years, you are entitled to parenting tie under the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines. The problem you may encounter though is if the mother denies you the parenting time you have no enforcement mechanism. If you are not going to file and have not properly executed a paternity affidavit, then you should file with the Putative Father Registry, so that you can be notified if some legal proceeding such as an adoption or guardianship, you should be notified.
Another change in the last year is in the area of joint legal custody. Before the last Legislature, the law did not allow a court to order joint legal custody to parents in a paternity action unless the parties agreed. While the court could award joint legal custody of children of divorcing parents, one parent in a paternity action (usually the father) did not have the same right. Now if the other party does not agree, the court may order joint legal custody in a paternity action. Joint legal custody involves the decision making over the child’s religion, education and non emergency medical care.
As with all other information contained on this website, you should not consider this legal advice and you should seek advice from a lawyer. Appointments may be arranged to discuss the matter with our lawyers but no advice will be given by email.