Paternity rights in Indiana have been leveraged for fathers effective July 1, 2010, based on a new Indiana law ( Indiana Code 16-37-2-2.1). Currently, when a child is born out-of -wedlock, Indiana law allows for the establishment of paternity by the filing of a Petition to Establish Paternity or the signing of a paternity affidavit by both parents. Assuming that the paternity affidavit is properly signed and all Indiana Code Requirements are met, the mother has sole and physical custody, while the father is entitled to “reasonable parenting time”. This means that the child lives with her mom and the mom also makes all decisions concerning health care, education, and religious upbringing.
Pursuant to the new statute regarding paternity rights, the child will still live with the mother. However, the parties can agree to share joint legal custody. In other words, the father and mother will jointly make decisions concerning healthcare, education and religious upbringing. Both parents will have equal access to school and medical records.
This paternity right statute does not mention what happens when there are disagreements between parents concerning, education, health care and similar decisions that may occur sometime in the future. However, in non- affidavit cases, if the parties disagree and cannot resolve their disagreements, the parties can petition the court to modify custody so that one parent has sole custody and will make all decisions. In all likelihood, the same procedure will apply under this statute.
In the event that the parties cannot agree on shared joint custody at the time of signing the paternity affidavit, the mother will have sole custody subject to modification when necessary and based on a petition filed in court.
Burton Padove has represented both fathers and mothers in Indiana paternity cases. Please feel free to contact him for a free consultation at (219) 836-2200 or (877) 4INLAW4 (446-5294).