There can be some confusion when it comes to talking about fathers’ rights in Indiana custody proceedings.
Men who are legally the fathers of their children legally have the same rights and responsibilities as the child’s mother.
In other words, under Indiana law, fathers and mothers have an obligation to support their children financially, and they have a right to visit with and build up a relationship with their children.
Indiana courts are not supposed to give preference to mothers over fathers in their custody and parenting time decisions. Each parent stands on equal footing when a court is deciding what is the in the best interest of children.
Unmarried fathers will need to establish paternity to get legal rights
However, for unmarried fathers to have legal rights to their children, they must first establish paternity under Indiana law. They can do this in two ways.
First, if they are certain that they are the father, they may sign a Paternity Affidavit.
Once they do so, they legally become the father listed on the document without any further testing or court hearings.
Especially after a couple of months, it can be difficult to revoke an Acknowledgement of Paternity once it has been signed, even if someone discovers he is in fact not the biological father of the child.
Also, while the acknowledgement gives fathers the right to ask for custody, parenting time, and support, a separate court proceeding will be necessary to set up the details of these arrangements.
Another way to establish paternity is through genetic testing and a court proceeding.
Without establishing paternity in one of these two ways, a father must rely on the mother’s good graces to have time with their children.
Fathers may need help advocating for their rights in court proceedings
Once a father legally establishes paternity, they have the same rights as the child’s mother. Be careful in executing the Paternity Affidavit and be sure to check the box for joint custody. An Indianapolis father may need to advocate for their rights in court or during a negotiation. They will need to understand how best to make their case for having lots of time with their children and a say in their lives.