"If two (2) people have a child together, but are not married and cannot decide issues about the child, is this where paternity law kicks in?"
The general answer to this question is yes. Many times the parties live together relatively well for a while after a child is born and set important parenting patterns for future paternity cases. In other cases, a father may not know he is the father, and the mother may be unsure herself.
These are common situations Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. paternity lawyers face. In Indiana, a putative (i.e., potential) father may establish custody of a child by entering into a paternity affidavit under the paternity statutes at the time of birth or by a legal action subsequently filed.
Once paternity is legally established, the parties have the same rights and responsibilities as those parents who are divorced. Physical and legal custody is established, along with parenting time and child support.
These may be modified throughout the child’s life depending upon the parties’ (and child’s) life circumstances. The types of post-paternity issues that are commonly seen by Indiana paternity lawyers include the following:
- Modification of parenting time.
- Modification of child support.
- Payment of certain uninsured medical expenses of the child.
- Payment of certain educational expenses of the child.
- Modification of physical custody.
- Modification of legal custody.
- Relocation of a parent.
- Contempt (willful behavior) of a parent, such as parenting time denial and non-payment of child support.
The remaining distinction between divorce and paternity matters that remains after the initial paternity or divorce action relates to the status of a case. Under Indiana law, there is still a stigma with children born out of wedlock. For this reason, paternity matters remain confidential and not open to the general public.
However, this is not the same as confidential information that exits in either type of case, such as social security numbers. These must be removed from the public file in both types of cases. Indiana paternity statutes, ultimately, ensure the child is able to receive the child support he or she is entitled to. Perhaps Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. may be your paternity lawyers/advocates in an initial paternity or modification case.