Thursday, November 8, 2007

Paternity and child support - 31-14-11

Paternity cases decide four issues. They decide who is the child's father, which parent shall have custody of the child, the non-custodial parent's parenting time, and child support. (They do not decide - unlike divorce courts - conflicts over the parties' property. See my articles on cohabitation on what to do about property issues of people living together.)

Unlike divorce cases, paternity cases do not go simply to a provisional hearing for setting temporary child custody and custody's related issues of support and parenting time. Indiana law provides for temporary support in paternity cases through Indiana Code 31-14-11-1.1:

In a paternity proceeding, the court shall issue a temporary order for child support if there is clear and convincing evidence that the man involved in the proceeding is the child's biological father.
I have had no cause to use this statute. Frankly, I see the "clear and convincing evidence" requirement as limiting its use to cases where paternity is a non-issue but the parties contend on other issues. That requires either the mother agrees to the man being the father or to where the parties underwent a paternity test prior to filing the paternity petition, and custody, child support and/or parenting time are at issue.

Why do I have this opinion? If the parties do not dispute paternity and have no disputes on the other issues, then the matter should be concluded at about the same time as filing the paternity petition. If the matter concludes at the same of filing the petition, there will be a final order on support. Therefore , the need for a temporary order exists only when the parties are fighting over an issues other than paternity.

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