What Is Paternity?
Paternity is the legal process of establishing the father of a child. By
establishing paternity, fathers have all the same parental rights and
obligations as the mother, including the right to request custody and
parenting time. Even if parents are living together or planning their
wedding, it is important to establish paternity. In the event that their
relationship deteriorates, the parties will have established certain rights
and responsibilities for the child. In addition, legal paternity establishes
rights to Social Security, inheritance, veteran benefits, and life and
health insurance benefits.
A man is presumed to be a child’s biological father if:
- The child was born during a marriage between the man and the child’s
biological mother, or no later than 300 days after the marriage’s
termination by death, annulment, or dissolution
- The man and the child’s biological mother attempted to marry but
the marriage was void or voidable, and the child was born during the attempted
marriage or no later than 300 days after its termination by death, annulment,
- The man undergoes a genetic test that indicates with at least a 99% probability
that the man is the child’s biological father.
Paternity is legally established through a paternity affidavit or by filing
in court to establish paternity. Once paternity is established or acknowledged,
a father is considered to be the birth parent. With paternity comes rights
and responsibilities, including being subject to a
child support order.
The Paternity Affidavit
Both the mother and father must sign a paternity affidavit. The paternity
affidavit can be executed within 72 hours of the child’s birth or
at the local health department in the jurisdiction where the child was
born any time before the child has reached the age of emancipation. It
is important to note that if a man has signed a paternity affidavit and
then wants genetic testing, he must request it within 60 days of the date
he signed the paternity affidavit.
If there is any doubt about paternity, a man should not sign the paternity
affidavit and should complete a DNA test instead. After 60 days, the court
will not set aside a paternity affidavit and the man is financially responsible
for the child.
Either party may utilize the paternity affidavit and have the court conduct
a hearing to address the issues including confirming paternity and establishing
custody, parenting time, and child support.
If there is not a signed paternity affidavit, the mother, the alleged father,
or a prosecuting attorney may file a paternity action. At an initial hearing,
the mother and alleged father may agree to paternity or request a genetic
test. The genetic test must be performed by a qualified expert and approved
by the court. The court will not accept an at-home DNA test to establish
paternity. In the event the genetic test confirms paternity with 99% certainty,
the court will then address issues discussed above.
If you believe you have been falsely named as a child’s biological
father, or if you are being accused of a false accusation, Hains Law,
LLC can help.
Paternity fraud is when a mother intentionally names a man as the father
of her child even though she knows he is not the biological father. There
are certain remedies to paternity fraud, but timing is everything. Ultimately,
the specific facts of each case will determine the parties’ available remedies.
If a man has signed a paternity affidavit, he is entitled to file a paternity
case in court and ask for genetic testing within 60 days of signing. If
the genetic test shows that the man is not the father, the court shall
set aside the paternity affidavit. Outside of 60 days, the man’s
paternity may not be disestablished, unless fraud, duress, or a material
mistake of fact is shown to have existed at the time the paternity affidavit
It is important to note that just because a man’s genetic test results
reveal he is not the biological father, the court may be unable to disestablish
paternity. Thus, the man who is not the biological father may still be
responsible for child support. Indiana courts have long held that a man’s
challenge to paternity when he has previously acknowledged himself to
be the father should only be allowed in extreme and rare circumstances.
Our Carmel paternity lawyer can explain your rights and options.
Regardless of whether the parents are unmarried or in the process of a
divorce, if a parent has doubts about the child’s biological father, it
is important to request a genetic test as soon as possible.
Do You Need a Lawyer for a Paternity Test?
It is best to retain a paternity lawyer when you are pursuing a paternity
action. Whether you are a mother trying to get child support or you are
a father trying to get custody or visitation rights, a lawyer can help
protect your interests and your child’s interests.
How Long Does a Paternity Suit Take?
The length of a paternity suit depends on a variety of factors. Paternity
needs to be established and once it is, custody, visitation, and financial
issues need to be resolved. In general, paternity litigation can take
up to a year, but if issues can be settled through mediation, then it
could be as fast as three months.
Request a Free Phone Consultation Today
With a decade of experience practicing family law, Attorney Joshua R. Hains
has the focus and dedication to see each case through to a successful
conclusion. A resource both during the process and in the future, Attorney
Hains keeps his clients informed. When you place your paternity case in
Attorney Hains’ hands, you can set your mind at ease with the knowledge
that the lines of communication are always open.
To understand your legal options,
contact Hains Law, LLC today at