In Indiana, children born during a marriage are presumed to belong to the husband. But what if you’ve never been married? Without establishing paternity through the court, single fathers don’t have the same rights automatically afforded to married fathers. While it’s true that dads share equal rights with mothers, a single man only gains his standing when paternity is established through the court system.
It is often assumed only mother or the prosecutor can file a paternity action. This is not true. A man who suspects he may be a father can file a petition to establish paternity and begin the process to gain parenting time (visitation) or even joint or full custody. A paternity action will also specify any child support obligation by either the mom or dad.
Protecting a Father’s Rights
What if the mom wants to put the baby up for adoption? A father still has rights in this instance. Indiana has a Putative Father Registry to help protect a dad’s rights. A potential father should register with the Putative Father Registry (a) before the child’s birth; (b) within 30 days after the baby is born, or (c) before an adoption proceeding is filed, whichever occurs last. Registering with the Putative Father Registry will insure that a man receives notice of an adoption if a biological mother decides to elect this route. The State provides a form that can be downloaded, notarized, and filed with the Department of Health.
If you would like to consult with the attorneys at Ruppert & Schaefer, P.C. to learn more about paternity rights, please call (317) 580-9295.