When parents legally separate or divorce, they will need to proactively go to court to establish parenting time, custody, and decision-making authority. However, some people never do so and create their own internal agreements on these matters.
While it may work for some families, it doesn't guarantee any form of legal protection and rights over the children. In Indiana, this is especially true for the father.
Indiana Assumes All Power is Vested in the Mother
Without going through the legal process of establishing parenting time, custody, and decision-making authority, the State of Indiana assumes that all powers are vested in the mother. She then has all legal rights over the child, even if there are private agreements that dictate the father shares some of these rights as well.
It happens a lot in Indiana when the father has custody of their children albeit without an official court proceeding. When the mother swoops in and takes custody of the child, the father ends up without relief at the wrong end of the custody battle because they never went to court to establish rights and responsibilities over the child from the get-go.
File a Petition to Establish Paternity Custody and Child Support
In scenarios like this, it's important for any parent (but especially fathers) to protect their rights over their kids by going to court. They should make things official by filing a petition to establish paternity custody and child support, which gives them an order in writing that reinforces their rights.
Even if the father finds himself with custody of the child unexpectedly, they should file the petition immediately instead of waiting for everything to blow up and him ending up with no legal relief.
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