When you have legal recognition as a father in Indiana, it gives you the right and opportunity to foster a relationship with your child and provide for his or her welfare. When you establish legal paternity for your child, it also provides benefits for him or her, including access to certain government benefits and health insurance. The process of establishing paternity depends on several factors, including your relationship with your child’s mother.

According to the Indiana Department of Child Services, establishing yourself as your child’s legal father ensures you have the same rights and responsibilities as your child’s mother. For example, you may name your child as an heir or pursue a custody or parenting time agreement even if you do not have an ongoing relationship with the child’s mother.

Paternity is a fairly automatic process if you and your child’s mother are married when your child is born. The state may also presume you are the child’s father even if you are no longer married to the mother, as long as your marriage ended no more than 300 days before your child’s birth.

If you are unable to establish paternity through marital status, there are two options: a court order or a paternity affidavit. If you and the child’s mother agree that you are the father, you may both sign a legal affidavit stating this information. You may fill out and submit this form at the hospital when your child is born or at the state’s Department of Health at any time until your child is no longer a minor (usually at age 18). A court order establishing paternity may or may not involve genetic testing.

This information on paternity laws in Indiana is intended to be educational; it should not be interpreted as legal advice.