How to Initiate the Paternity Process

Child Support
How to Initiate the Paternity Process

May 17, 2022

It is generally a good idea to take the time needed to establish paternity. Children generally want to know who their father is and it can provide them with child support and other important benefits. Our experienced Fort Wayne paternity attorneys explain more about these and how to initiate the process. 

The Benefits of Establishing Paternity in Indiana

Paternity is presumed when a child is born either during a marriage or within 300 days after a divorce. In situations involving single parents, there are two options for establishing paternity in Indiana. 

The first is a paternity affidavit. This is a legal document both parties sign declaring that the man is the child’s biological father and assumes all parental rights and responsibilities. The Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) advises that a paternity agreement can be done either at the hospital and within 72 hours of the child’s birth or at any point after (up until the child is emancipated) at the local department of health. Once a paternity affidavit is signed, the father’s name can then be added to the birth certificate. The second option for establishing paternity is through a court order. 

This requires legal proceedings in which DNA testing is conducted and is commonly used if either the mother or father refuses to sign a paternity agreement. Knowing their father is important to children as they get older and formally establishing paternity offers other important benefits: 

  • Provides access to important medical history and health information;
  • Entitles the child to the father’s Veterans or Social Security benefits;
  • Allows the child to be listed on the father’s health insurance;
  • Entitles them to rights as the father’s heir;
  • Entitles them to receive child support. 

How to Initiate Paternity Proceedings in Indiana

Under the Indiana Code, a father, mother, or even the child themselves (up until the age of 20) can initiate paternity proceedings by filing a petition through the local court. This alleges a specific person is the father and requests a court order. Once filed, the process generally follows these steps: 

  • The other party is served with legal notice of the petition and has 30 days to respond; 
  • If they wish to dispute paternity, the case will go to court; 
  • DNA testing is conducted by taking a mouth swab from the mother, the alleged father, and the child involved;
  • If the results are positive, the judge will issue a court order establishing paternity and address the issue of child support

Request a Consultation With Our Fort Wayne Paternity Attorneys

There are many benefits to establishing paternity. To find out more about the process, reach out to The Bellinger Law Office. Call or contact our Fort Wayne paternity attorneys online and request a confidential consultation today. 

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Robert H. Bellinger



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