Until July 1, 2014, paternity actions in Indiana were considered confidential. While divorce cases and other litigation was public record, to which anyone had access, paternity records were sealed, and even attorneys, without an appearance, were unable to review same.
Under new Indiana law, however, this confidentiality is no more1. Like divorce cases, paternity cases are now public record, and can be accessed. This update to the law puts the relatively similar paternity and divorce cases on an equal field regarding access. Now, an attorney or staff can call the Court to get updates, or check an online docket. Before, without an appearance and verification, that was not possible. Parents can also access their case online, if same is available for their County.
This access can be helpful in a number of instances. For example, being able to review the Chronological Case Summary (CCS) can determine when a hearing is set and on what motions. It also gives a history of the case, so attorneys and parties can review what has happened in the past, and what is pending and upcoming.
Lack of confidentiality of these cases may cause some concern, but there are still means to keep information confidential. The shift in the law is not to expose sensitive information such as mental health or personally identifying information (ex. social security numbers). That information can still be protected through other avenues, just like in divorce cases.
Rather, the shift takes away the characterization of paternity being confidential because the parents of the child were not married. With the changing tides of family law today, the previous notion of a mother, father, 2.3 children, and a dog is no longer the norm. The change in the law seems to reflect that notion.
Of note, cases filed before July 1, 2014 remain confidential.
We hope that this blog post has been helpful in exploring some general ideas about a shift in paternity cases. This blog is not intended as legal advice. If you have questions or concerns about your case, CIYOU & DIXON, P.C. may be able to help evaluate same. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. practices throughout the state of Indiana. This post was written by attorney, Jessica Keyes.