Signing the hospital paternity affidavit is not necessary to establish paternity, nor does it grant a father any parenting time rights. If you were unaware of your child’s birth at the time, were not present at the hospital, or simply did not sign the hospital paternity affidavit. You will still establish paternity and request that you see your child. This blog discusses how to establish paternity and see your child if you did not sign the hospital affidavit.
Indiana code provides two exclusive methods for establishing paternity, executing a paternity affidavit or filing a paternity action with the court. Execution of a paternity affidavit may occur at the hospital, not more than 72 hours after the child’s birth or at a local health department before the child’s emancipation. Whether executed at the hospital or health department, a paternity affidavit does not establish any physical custody or parenting time rights for the father. If the parties check the box agreeing to share joint legal custody, it will grant the father the right to jointly make important decisions regarding the child’s upbringing. Such as those pertaining to religious training, healthcare, and education. In order to establish paternity and see your child if you did not sign a paternity affidavit, you will need to file a paternity action with the court.
Several sections of Indiana code govern the filing of a paternity action. The first section provides that venue for the action is in the county where the mother, the child, or the alleged father reside. This means that you must file your petition in one of these county’s circuit or superior courts. The next relevant section of the code limits your time for filing the action to two years after the date of the child’s birth.
This section then provides exceptions to the two year limitation: “(1) both the mother and the alleged father waive the limitation on actions and file jointly; (2) support has been furnished by the alleged father or by a person acting on his behalf, either voluntarily or under an agreement with: (A) the mother; (B) a person acting on the mother's behalf; or (C) a person acting on the child's behalf; (3) the mother, the department, or a prosecuting attorney operating under an agreement or contract described in IC 31-25-4-13.1 files a petition after the alleged father has acknowledged in writing that he is the child's biological father; (4) the alleged father files a petition after the mother has acknowledged in writing that he is the child's biological father; (5) the petitioner was incompetent at the time the child was born; or (6) a responding party cannot be served with summons during the two (2) year period.”
Once your petition to establish paternity has been filed, the court will then determine if you are the biological father of the child. If you file a joint petition with the mother of your child, or you and the mother file a written agreement that you are the father of the child, the court will enter a finding that you are the biological father of the child without setting a hearing. If, at hearing, there is any doubt that you are the biological father of the child, the court will order biological testing (DNA testing) to determine whether you are in fact the child’s father. Once paternity is established, a hearing will then be set to determine support, custody, and parenting time.
Child support will be determined based on the Indiana Child Support Rules and Guidelines. The date the child support is set to begin could be as far back as the date of the child’s birth and must be as far back as the date the paternity action was filed.
Custody shall be ordered based on the factors of custody determination: “The court shall determine custody in accordance with the best interests of the child. In determining the child's best interests, there is not a presumption favoring either parent. The court shall consider all relevant factors, including the following: (1) The age and sex of the child. (2) The wishes of the child's parents. (3) The wishes of the child, with more consideration given to the child's wishes if the child is at least fourteen (14) years of age. (4) The interaction and interrelationship of the child with: (A) the child's parents; (B) the child's siblings; and (C) any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interest. (5) The child's adjustment to home, school, and community. (6) The mental and physical health of all individuals involved. (7) Evidence of a pattern of domestic or family violence by either parent….”
Reasonable parenting time will then be established for the non-custodial parent based on the parties agreement, or pursuant to the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines, unless the court finds that parenting time may “endanger the child's physical health and well-being or significantly impair the child's emotional development.”
If you need to establish paternity and see your child, the experienced attorneys at Ciyou & Associated, P.C. can help. This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. It is for general educational purposes. The blog is not intended to be relied upon for any legal matter or issue. The blog is not legal advice. This is an advertisement.