Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Paternity - who can file: prosecuting attorneys and a gripe

In my first post about who can file a paternity case, Paternity - who can file, it is mentioned that an Indiana prosecuting attorney is one of the entities who can file a paternity petition.

IC 31-14-4-2(a) requires a prosecuting attorney to file a paternity petition "and represent the child" when requested by:

They do this for free.

Notice a few things:
  1. That the man can request service from the prosecuting attorney.
  2. That the prosecuting attorney is also to "represent the child" and not just file a petition.
Indiana's prosecuting attorneys have long had a role in paternity cases. Prosecuting attorneys also collect child support for Title IV-D cases.

Which brings us to my gripe. I view representation as being more than only filing the petition and establishing paternity but also those more troublesome areas of family law: custody and parenting time. The prosecuting attorneys appearing in paternity cases view themselves as child support enforcement prosecutors and most county offices label the prosecuting attorney in these cases as child support enforcement prosecutors. Indiana's prosecuting attorneys will not engage in modifications of custody or parenting time - even if at the same time they are the child's attorney of record.

Indiana does not allow a limited appearance for an attorney - if I am in a case, then I am in all the way - except for prosecuting attorneys in paternity cases.

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