Raising an Unrelated Child in Indiana Paternity Matters

In Indiana, paternity cases establish the child’s biological parentage which is in the child’s best interest. There is a public policy interest to establish paternity for the children in Indiana while also maintaining as much normalcy as possible in the child’s life. While establishing biological parentage is important it is equally important for those individuals raising unrelated children to understand their rights and legal implications. This blog discusses raising an unrelated child in Indiana and how legal counsel can help you understand your rights. 

First, Indiana Law has a rebuttable presumption regarding the child’s biological father. Pursuant to Indiana Code 31-14-7-2, “[i]f there is not a presumed biological father under section 1 of this chapter, there is a rebuttable presumption that a man is the child’s biological father if, with the consent of the child’s mother, the man: (1) receives the child into the man’s home; and (2) openly holds the child out as the man’s biological child.” However, it is important to note that the presumption does not establish paternity and that paternity is established pursuant to Indiana Code 31-14-2-1. There are many instances where a man who has not established paternity or is knowingly unrelated raises a child in their home or openly holds the child out as their own biological child. The presumption exists to ensure that there is integrity of the parent-child relationship, regardless of the lack of biological connection.

Notably, the presumption can be rebutted if genetic testing establishes non-paternity and then the presumed father may petition the court to terminate their paternity status and rights. That is just one option. Another option would be that the unrelated individual has raised and cared for the child for many years and they petition the court requesting parenting time or custody. This usually requires the unrelated individual to pursue custody or parenting time as a de facto custodian. Pursuant to Indiana Code 31-9-2-35.5 establishes that de facto custodian, “means a person who has been the primary caregiver for, and financial support of, a child who has resided with the person for at least: (1) six (6) months if the child is less than three (3) years of age; or (2) one (1) year if the child is at least three (3) years of age. Any period after a child custody proceeding has been commenced may not be included in determining whether the child has resided with the person for the required minimum period.” The Indiana courts recognize the importance of maintaining these relationships with children, and upon a showing of the circumstances will the courts make their determination. 

It is important to keep in mind that upon petitioning the court for parenting time or custody as an unrelated parent, there may be child support implications to consider. Overall, unrelated parents raising a child have many legal avenues to pursue in the Indiana courts. While this is a lot of information, the assistance of an experienced family law attorney can make a difference in your matter. The attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. have an extensive background in paternity and de facto custodianship matters. We are here to assist you in navigating parenting time, custody, etc. for an unrelated parent. This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. and this blog is not intended as specific legal advice or solicitation of services. This is an advertisement.


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