Do Unmarried Fathers Have Parental Rights in Indiana?
Having a baby can be a thrilling new adventure even when you are an unmarried father and things didn’t work out the way you expected with your partner. Wondering whether unmarried fathers have parental rights is a common concern among men who have children and are unmarried to their children’s partners. Our clients ask our Indiana family law attorneys this common question; do unmarried fathers have parental rights in Indiana?
Unfortunately, the short answer is no. Unmarried fathers do not automatically have parental rights in Indiana.
Under Indiana law, the mother automatically has legal and physical custody of a child when the two parents are unmarried. Therefore, even if fathers are on the birth certificate, they do not have parental rights if unmarried in Indiana.
Because the father has no legal rights to their child, a mother would be legally able to;
- Move the child to another location, including another state or outside the country.
- Limit visitation with the father and the father’s family. Visitation could include no visitation at all.
- Make all parenting decisions, including education, religion, travel, and day-to-day parenting.
So, can fathers establish parental rights in Indiana?
How to establish parental rights for unmarried fathers in Indiana
If you are an unmarried father in Indiana looking to establish parental rights, you must prove that you are indeed the child’s father. There are two ways to establish paternity in Indiana.
- The father needs to file a paternity affidavit. In this case, both parents must sign the document proclaiming that they are both mother and father to the child. This document must be signed within 72 hours after the child’s birth. Keep in mind;
- You need to have a witness.
- When the birth certificate is signed, the father can change the child’s last name to his.
- If you don’t sign the document within 72 hours, you will have to sign the document at the local health department.
- You do have 60 days challenge by requesting genetic testing. More than 60 days if the court has any reason for fraud.
- The father accepts the parental responsibility of being a child’s legally recognized father upon signing.
2. The father can establish paternity through a court order. Either the mother or father can start a paternity action through the court.
- Both parents can acknowledge paternity.
- Or either parent can request genetic testing. A qualified expert approved by the court must perform the testing. The father must complete the genetic test at a state-approved laboratory.
- Once paternity has been established. The court may also put a child custody agreement in place if the parents can not agree.
Paternal father’s benefits and rights
There are a few reasons why a father needs to establish parental rights. First, the child’s best interest is to create a strong bond and relationship with the paternal father. Two, for the father to have rights and make decisions when co-parenting. Three, the child will have access to the father’s medical history, and four, the child will be able to inherit access from the father.
Parental rights over the child will include;
- Visitation rights
- Work with the child’s mother or the courts to create a visitation schedule.
- Have equal rights in co-parenting decisions such as healthcare, education, religious matters, and day-to-day parenting
- The child can travel with both parents.
- The right to petition for custody if the mother is found to be unfit
- The right to prevent the child’s mother from taking the child out of state without his consent
- Allows the parents to change the child’s last name if desired
Do you need help establishing parental rights in Indiana?
If you are an unmarried father who is looking to establish parental rights. It’s in your best interest to work with an experienced family law attorney who will be able to help you through the entire process, from setting up your DNA parental test to assisting you with your child custody agreement and visitation.
Our Indiana family law firm provides full representation for men and women and will work to ensure you are treated fairly and protect your interest and that of your children.
We can help you with your parental rights in Indiana.
At Rowdy G. Williams Law Firm, we are dedicated to providing compassionate, aggressive, and experienced legal representation to all of our clients. We know the difficult path that you are about to take, but we can tell you that you will come out at the other end in a better place to achieve your goal of peace and happiness. It is our goal to be your advocate to protect you, your children, and your future.
Contact us for a free consultation, or simply give us a call at 812-232-7400. We are here to listen and provide you with the support and guidance you need.