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Your Rights as an Unwed Father in Indiana

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Your Rights as an Unwed Father in Indiana

March 13, 2018

Being an unwed father in Indiana is not easy, at least not at first. If you and your child’s mother are not together at the time of your baby’s birth, and if she does not agree to include your name on the birth certificate, you do not have any parental rights. If you want to obtain parental rights, you need to first establish paternity, which a paternity representative from The Bellinger Law Office can help you do. A skilled Fort Wayne attorney can also help you win custodial rights of your child to ensure that you have an ongoing relationship with them, as merely establishing paternity does not mean that you automatically get visitation or custodial rights.

If you are an unwed father in Indiana, there are a few things you need to understand about your rights. This post will outline the basics so that you can better prepare for what is to come after the birth of your child.

What Makes a “Legal Father” in Indiana?

There are some instances in which a DNA test is not always necessary to establish paternity. Indiana law defines additional methods which a man can use to gain parental rights, which are as follows:

  • The man was married to the child’s mother at the time of birth;
  • The child was born no later than 300 days after the marriage ended;
  • The Department of Public Aid or an Indiana court administrative order established paternity; or
  • Both the man and the mother signed a voluntary acknowledgement of the man’s paternity.

If none of the following applies to your situation, you do not have any parental rights, in which case, you would need to consult with a Fort Wayne paternity attorney to help you establish your rights via other means.

Establishing Custody After You Have Established Paternity

Once you have established paternity, you still need to work with a family law attorney to gain custodial rights. Otherwise, your efforts to establish paternity will have been for naught. You would go about doing this in much the same way as you would if you were going through a divorce and trying to establish a fair parenting plan. The process would begin with a request made by you to the courts to be formally granted custody or visitation. The court would evaluate yours and the mother’s situations and make a determination based on what is in the best interests of the child. Some factors the courts may consider before making a determination include:

  • The child’s age;
  • The child’s wishes;
  • The emotional, physical, and mental well-being of all parties;
  • Whether or not there are siblings;
  • What the relationship is like between all involved parties;
  • Whether or not there are any signs of physical violence or abuse;
  • The child’s level of happiness in his or her current situation;
  • How committed each parent is to helping the child maintain a positive relationship with the other; and
  • What was the nature of the relationship between the father and child prior to the father requesting custody.

The court’s overall goal is to place the child in a situation that is healthy and that encourages positive emotional and physical development. Establishing custody can be much more difficult than establishing paternity, as it requires a judge to look at a lot more than just the facts. If you want to gain a reasonable amount of custody of your child, you need to prepared to allow the courts to pry into every aspect of your life and possibly to change your lifestyle so as to make it more conducive to child rearing.

The Right Attorney Can Help You Protect Your Rights

If you are an unwed father in Indiana, and if you want to uphold your rights as a father, it would be in your best interests to retain the help of an experienced Fort Wayne paternity lawyer. To get started on your case today, contact The Bellinger Law Office via phone or our online contact form.

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