The parent-child relationship is one of the more significant ones in society. After all, if you have a child, you have a solemn responsibility to provide care, coaching and love. You may also have a legal obligation to pay for the child’s everyday needs. 

In simple terms, paternity equates to fatherhood. For a variety of reasons, paternity is important to both parents and children. Nevertheless, the identity of a child’s father is not always clear. Here are four common ways to establish paternity in Indiana:

1. Marriage

Arguably the easiest way to establish paternity is for the parents to be in a valid marriage at the time of the child’s birth. If so, Indiana law presumes paternity. The law also presumes paternity if the child is born fewer than 300 days after the marriage ends. Still, if there is some dispute about marriage-based paternity, a court may have to intervene.

2. Hospital affidavit

After a child’s birth and before leaving the hospital, parents can sign an affidavit that attests to paternity. If you choose to go this route, you must execute the document within 72 hours of the birth. For unmarried parents, this is a convenient way to establish paternity.

3. Health department affidavit

In the Hoosier State, you can also confirm paternity by visiting your local health department and completing a paternity affidavit. To take advantage of this option, the child’s birth certificate must not list a father. You also must execute the health department affidavit before the child’s emancipation. Unless a court orders otherwise, a child emancipates at the age of 19. 

4. Court order

Finally, you can ask a judge to settle paternity. If there is a dispute, the court may require genetic testing. Note that if a father has previously executed a paternity affidavit, he usually only has 60 days to request genetic testing. If there is no dispute, two parents can also file a joint motion, asking a judge to confirm paternity. 

You clearly want to know you are the father of your child. Fortunately, you have a few options for putting your mind at ease. Which approach to establishing paternity is right for your family, however, likely depends on your unique circumstances.