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Why unmarried fathers may need to establish paternity

On Behalf of | Nov 8, 2023 | Family Law

Fathers in Indiana have a responsibility to their children. They also have certain rights protected through state law. For some men, parental rights are automatic because they’re married the mother of their children. Others need to inform the state of their parental relationship.

They can achieve this by establishing paternity. There are numerous benefits associated with officially establishing paternity in Indiana.

Paternity leads to custody rights

Unmarried fathers who end their relationships with the mothers of their children sometimes think they have no rights. However, they can have the same rights as married fathers if the state is aware of their parental relationship. Officially establishing paternity is how a father gains access to the family court system. They can ask for a hearing that could lead to shared custody. A father who has established paternity will receive the same consideration that a mother or married father would regarding parenting time and the right to decision-making authority for their children.

Paternity can help to create a sense of family

A father’s decision to establish paternity is also beneficial for his child. Especially when their parents do not cohabitate or share a romantic relationship, children may have a difficult time understanding their background and what their family history is truly like. Establishing paternity will make it easier for a child to trace family medical history and understand their position both in society and within their family unit. A child whose father has his name included on their birth certificate will also have certain rights, including the right of inheritance if the father dies without a will and the right to access certain forms of state benefits.

The exact steps a father must take to establish paternity will be different depending on whether the mother cooperates with him and the point in the child’s life at which he attempts to establish his paternity. Regardless of the measures required, a father establishing paternity will typically be beneficial for everyone in the extended family unit.