Fathers in Indiana have certain protected rights when it comes to making decisions in regards to the visitation, education and health care for their children. The Hoosier State has various laws in place that are designed to protect these rights as well as the rights of the mother and child when it comes to issues in relation of custody and visitation rights.
Recognition as Father
Under Indiana law, any child that is conceived during the course of a marriage between a man and a woman is presumed to be the biological child of the husband. The name of the husband will appear on the birth certificate as father unless compelling evidence, such as a negative DNA or blood test, shows otherwise. For children born outside of wedlock, the prospective father has the right to have his paternity legally established through the process of DNA testing in order to have his name represented as father on the birth certificate of the child. Paternity may also be legally recognized through a paternity affidavit (a legal document acknoledging paternity) as long as it is filed with the Indiana Department of Health within 72 hours of the child's birth. Under Indiana law, paternity affidavits must be signed by both the mother and the father in order to be legally recognized.
Custody and Visitation
The state of Indiana strongly favors the unification of the family. Therefore, the state does whatever possible to ensure that the child is afforded equal access to both parents unless it can be shown that it is not in the best interest of the child. Therefore, in cases of divorce or whenever paternity has been established, fathers have the right to petition the court for joint custody, sometimes known as shared parenting. In joint custody situations, both parents share equal time with the child and are both entitled to make legal, educational and medical decisions on behalf of the child. This rule applies to fathers of both naturally conceived and legally adopted children. If the court designates that shared parenting is not possible or feasible, the father has the rights to liberal visitation with the child or children involved.
Children have the right to be supported by both parents to ensure that they are safe, fed and adequately housed. Child support in the state of Indiana is calculated by a formula that includes several factors. These factors include the cost of day care and health insurance and who pays for such factors, as well as the number of children subject to support and any child support paid to children from other relationships. Fathers in Indiana who are ordered to pay child support have the right to have the amount of support that they are required to pay to be be calculated by the court in order to ensure that the amount is fair. Fathers also have the right to have the amount of the monthly child support order adjusted, if needed, because of a change in income relating to a job loss or change in salary and cannot be denied visitation because of a failure to pay. However, flagrant failure to pay court ordered child support is a crime and is punishable by fines as well as jail time.