Friday, March 2, 2007

Establishing Paternity in Indiana: Generally

Indiana law allows two methods for establishing paternity. There is a paternity affidavit and a Petition to Establish Paternity. The paternity affidavit does not require a filing with a court but the Petition must be filed with the local juvenile court. Paternity comes under the jurisdiction of Indiana's juvenile courts.

A paternity affidavit establishes paternity by the mother and the putative father signing the affidavit. No one conducts a genetic test first. The paternity affidavit only establishes paternity and that the mother has custody. All other parental rights - support and parenting time - come only after the filing of a petition with the local juvenile court. While I intend to write more at a later date on these paternity affidavits, these are the essential points except one. The father has 60 days after signing the paternity affidavit to request genetic testing. (IC 16-37-2-2.1).

The mother, the putative father, the local prosecuting attorney, the child, or the local FSSA office may file a petition to establish paternity. Each person filing has a different statute of limitations that will apply to the case. As I wrote above, the juvenile court has jurisdiction over the case. The court has the power to determine child custody, child support, the child's name, and parenting time. If there was no paternity affidavit, then paternity itself must be proven. If a state agency filed the petition, then the defending party can ask for that agency to pay the initial costs for the genetic testing. However, if the parties executed a paternity affidavit and more than 60 days have elapsed since they signed the affidavit, there will be no genetic testing. Which is the big "gotcha" about paternity affidavits.

If there are genetic tests, then the case will be determined by their results. If the results are positive (that is, if there is 98% probability that the male is the father) or no tests were ordered by the court, then there is a hearing on the remaining issues of custody, support and parenting time. After the hearing and the judge makes a decision, the parties get a Decree of Paternity.


Tonya said...

If I have read your blog correctly, you are saying that once the paternity testing has been proved, then its over. I have I have found this not to be true. In my court case, I knew that my ex husband was not the father, and he knew that as well. I had the genetic testing done (after a long drawn out fight) proving that my ex husband was not the father...but yet the judge "DEEMED" him the father. I am also barred from going after the real father. I dont understand how that worked at all.

Anonymous said...

In my situation, our twin boys are nearly 23 months old. I have copies of the Affidavit of Paternity signed by both me and the mother in the hospital at their time of birth, and are filed with the state of KY (born in Louisville, but mother and twins live in Sellersburg, IN). The mother decided she no longer wanted to be together in Sept, kicked me out and since Nov 18 has refused to let me have any contact with the children. Do I not have rights to the children given that I have the copies of the Affidavits of Paternity and are on file in KY? My lawyer said he filed over a month ago for a hearing on Paternity in Clark County, still no court date, nothing. Is this normal?

Sam Hasler said...

I cannot say what is usual for Clark County. That is far from my stomping grounds. I suggest that you take a look at the paternity archives:

Indiana's paternity affidavit gives no rights but only obligations.