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Paternity Affidavits – Should I Sign One? What Does It Mean?

| Oct 5, 2018 | Family Law |

Indiana, like most other states, allows parents who are not married to establish paternity for their child without having to go to court. Parents can sign a paternity affidavit at the hospital within 72 hours of their child’s birth, or they both can go to the local health department in the county in which the child was born and sign a paternity affidavit. Both parents must sign the paternity affidavit in order for it to be legally valid.

No matter where or when parents choose to sign a paternity affidavit for their child, it has the same effect. By signing the affidavit form, both parents are swearing under oath that the man is the biological father of the child. Signing a paternity affidavit allows a father to put his name on the child’s birth certificate and, if both parents agree, give the child his surname.

A paternity affidavit makes a man who signs it the legal father of the child. It is just as legal under Indiana law as if the parents had gone to court and obtained an order from the judge that establishes paternity for their child. A paternity affidavit also establishes custody and parenting time, or visitation, for the child. When parents sign a paternity affidavit, the mother is granted sole custody of the child and the father is granted reasonable parenting time with the child according to the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines. A paternity affidavit also enables the mother to get a court order for the father to pay child support (if she chooses to do so) without having to do anything else to establish paternity first.

The most important thing to remember about paternity affidavits is that once a man signs a paternity affidavit, he (or the mother) has only 60 days from the date that the paternity affidavit was signed in which to cancel or take back the paternity affidavit. The man would have to file an action in court asking for a DNA test within that 60-day timeframe. If the man fails to ask for a DNA test within 60 days of signing the paternity affidavit, then he will remain the legal father of the child, unless he can prove that the mother or someone else tricked him or forced him to sign the paternity affidavit.

If you have ANY doubt that you might not be a child’s biological father, you should NOT sign a paternity affidavit for the child. Instead, you should contact Arnold Law Office today at 765-962-3344 or 866-958-5995. Jeffrey T. Arnold is a Richmond paternity establishment attorney who can assist you with getting a DNA test and legally establishing paternity, custody, parenting time, and child support in your case.