Can an Indiana mom prevent a father from establishing paternity?

On Behalf of | Feb 29, 2024 | Child And Spousal Support

Fathers in Indiana often struggle to understand their legal rights and protections. Those who are unfamiliar with the law might end up making mistakes, such as giving up their parental rights instead of seeking to assert them. Unmarried fathers, in particular, may struggle to understand what rights they have if they are currently embroiled in a dispute with the mother of their children.

Misinformation about custody matters is relatively widespread. Well-meaning people may share false information that deters a man from being the father he wants to be. Fathers sometimes unknowingly give up their rights because they believe they have no options without the cooperation of the mother.

Especially when the mother of a child insists that she does not want to acknowledge the father or give him access to their child, an unmarried father may be unsure of what rights he really has. Does the mother of someone’s children need to cooperate for him to establish paternity in Indiana?

Cooperation is helpful but not necessary

The fastest and easiest way to establish paternity as an unmarried father is to have the mother of the child cooperate in the execution of a voluntary acknowledgment. The two parents can fill out paperwork at the hospital at the time of the child’s birth or at any point while they are still a minor. That paperwork can add the father’s name to the birth certificate and grant him basic parental rights.

If the mother does not agree, then he may feel as though he has few options. However, state law does not leave him dependent on the acknowledgment or support of the mother of his child. He always has the option of taking the matter to family court.

A judge can potentially order paternity testing if a mother refuses to acknowledge the father’s relationship with the child. Such testing is both highly reliable and non-invasive. Therefore, the mother typically does not have any legal justification to refuse paternity testing. Should the test affirm the man’s claim that he is the biological father of the child, he can then add his name to the birth certificate and ask for shared custody rights.

Understanding Indiana’s approach to paternity may benefit those hoping to be more actively involved as parents. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to get started.

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