A paternity affidavit is a legal document that, “permits a man and a woman to declare, under penalty of perjury, that the man is the biological father of a child”. Paternity affidavits are not required to prove paternity when a child is born during a marriage or within 300 days of a divorce. In those situations, the husband of the biological mother is presumed to be the biological father of the child.
For situations where the biological parents of a child are not married, a properly executed paternity affidavit can give rights to the father without a court order. The first method is to complete the paternity affidavit at the hospital within 72 hours of the child’s birth. The hospital, whether public or personnel, should provide parents who have a child out of wedlock an opportunity to establish paternity. Additionally, the hospital staff should verbally explain to the parents the legal effects of the affidavit once it is executed.
The second method to establishing a paternity affidavit is through a local health department. This must be completed before the child reaches the age of emancipation. Once either of these methods have been completed, the Department of Health will add the father’s name to the child’s birth certificate.
Whether the form was filled out at the hospital at birth or later at a local health department before emancipation, the following information is required:
(1) the mother, father, and child’s full name, Social Security Number, date of birth, and address;
(2) a brief explanation of the legal significance of signing a voluntary paternity affidavit;
(3) a statement signed by both parents indicating they understand the affidavit is voluntary, they understand their rights and responsibilities, alternatives, and the consequences of paternity. See Indiana Code § 16-37-2-2.1 for the full text and requirements.
There are multiple benefits to having a paternity affidavit establish paternity at the time of birth. After paternity is established, the child has access to social security benefits, inheritance rights, insurance benefits, and economic support. Not to mention the emotional benefits of having two established parents in a day in age when such rarity is overshadowed by the inclining rate of single mothers. Once signed by the parents and finalized by the department of child services, a paternity affidavit executed correctly establishes paternity of the child and gives certain parental rights to both parties including (1) the right of the child’s mother to obtain child support including health insurance, and (2) parenting time in accordance with the guidelines adopted by the Indiana Supreme Court, (3) equal access to the child’s school and medical records, and (4) shared custody.
If you or someone you know has questions about executing a paternity affidavit of the impact of a paternity affidavit, Banks and Brower, LLC can assist. Give us a call at (317) 870-0019, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.