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Can a mom prevent an Indiana father from establishing paternity?

On Behalf of | Apr 15, 2024 | Paternity |

Both parents of a minor child potentially have the same rights under Indiana state law. The rules about custody are not sex-specific. Fathers can potentially have as much time with their children and decision-making authority as mothers have.

Married men going through divorces can assert their parental rights as part of that process. Establishing a shared custody arrangement is a standard component of an Indiana divorce. However, not all couples with children get married to one another.

Unmarried fathers in Indiana typically need to establish paternity with the state if they hope to have parenting time or exercise decision-making authority. Can the mother of a child prevent a father from establishing paternity?

The easiest process is cooperative

Technically, the simplest means of establishing paternity in Indiana involves the cooperation of the mother. Fathers can potentially add their name to the birth certificate of a child at the hospital at the time of the child’s birth. The state can include his name on the first official birth certificate for the child, thereby establishing his parental relationship. A man does not need to be present for the birth to cooperate with the mother to establish paternity. The parents can fill out voluntary paperwork together at any point while the child is still a minor. If the relationship between the parents is not positive, then the mother might refuse to cooperate when the father seeks to establish custody. At that point, he may need to ask the courts for help.

Paternity testing is not voluntary

If a man has reason to believe that he is the father of a child but the mother does not cooperate with him, then his best option might involve going to family court. The state can order genetic testing to validate a man’s claim of paternity. Such testing is neither expensive nor invasive, so mothers typically cannot refuse to comply with testing orders. So long as the test does affirm that a man is the father of the child, he could then seek to add his name to the birth certificate and request parental rights. The courts can award someone parenting time and a degree of decision-making authority based on the outcome of genetic testing.

While fathers with young children often hope to maintain a positive relationship with the mothers of their children, they should not avoid conflict to the extent that it negatively affects their parental rights. Understanding the process involved in establishing paternity and the role that plays in child custody cases may benefit men worried about stepping up as fathers. Dads who know and make use of their rights can play an active role in the upbringing of their children.