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  • Colin Koons

How do you establish paternity?

Paternity is important. You deserve to know your rights about your children. If the rights to paternity are established, you will have access to seek custody, parenting time, and make decisions about your children.

Importantly, after your death, your children have the right to seek the following benefits:

  • Social Security dependent or survivor benefits

  • Inheritance rights

  • Veteran's benefits

  • Life and health insurance benefits

If your paternity is not established, you could lose out on quality time with your children, and your children could miss these death benefit forever.

If the parties married, it's easy - any child born when husband and wife are married will be considered a child of the marriage, and Husband is automatically "the father."

However, this fact can cause issues if the parties are living separately. Even though conception might have been physically impossible, Husband is still considered to be the "legal father" even though he might be not be the "biological father." You could be "on the hook" for financial support of a child that is not biologically yours.

If the Mother and Father are not married, Indiana Statute provides a specific method to establish paternity for a child. Usually, this is done through either one of the following methods:

(1) signing a paternity affidavit at birth, or

(2) Court-ordered establishment of fatherhood.

Paternity Affidavit

Court Order

Signed at the hospital within 72 hours of child's birth


Signed at local health department before child is emancipated (usually around 18 years old)

Can be requested at any time, even prior to the child birth

Does not provide enforceable court order on parenting time

Provides a court-order parenting time and custody schedule

Difficult to revoke after signed

Is not permanent until the judge receives evidence from both Mother and Father

For more information, click here to review a website from the Indiana Department of Child Services, or call our offices at (317) 721-8044 to discuss with a family law attorney. You can also click the link below to schedule a virtual appointment via video conference.


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