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Indiana Department of Child Services

DCS  > Child Support > About Us > Paternity Paternity

Simply put, paternity means fatherhood.  Establishing paternity gives a child a legal father.  It also gives the father both rights and obligations related to helping take care of his child.  It is important for the child to know who they are.  By knowing both parents, a child gains a sense of identity and belonging.  Both parents have the right to establish a healthy relationship with their child(ren) and a responsibility to care for their child(ren).  Making the relationship legal from the beginning provides a greater opportunity for a healthy relationship and insures the father's rights to a relationship with his child.  Legal fathers have all of the same parental rights and responsibilities as the mother, including the right to seek custody or parenting time.

Parents and their children should know about potentially inherited health problems.  Establishing paternity provides the child a greater likelihood of having access to this information.  In addition, establishing paternity is the first step in making plans to provide the financial support a child needs.

With legal paternity established, the child will have access to:

  • Social Security dependent or survivor benefits
  • Inheritance rights
  • Veteran's benefits
  • Life and health insurance benefits


How is Paternity Established?

A man is presumed to be a child's legal father if;

  • He and his wife are married when the child is born, or 
  • If the child is born no later than 300 days after the marriage ends

In all other cases, legal paternity must be established in one of two ways;

  • Paternity Affidavit, or
  • Court Order

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.  A properly executed paternity affidavit establishes legal paternity (fatherhood) and parental rights and responsibilities, without the necessity of obtaining a court order.  A paternity affidavit may be completed at the hospital within 72 hours of the child's birth or at your local health department any time before the child is emancipated.  If paternity is established by paternity affidavit, the Department of Health will add the father's name to the child's birth certificate.

The second way paternity can be established is by an order from the court.  Either parent may file an action in an appropriate Indiana court seeking determination of paternity.  The county prosecutor's office may also file an action if the case is a Title IV-D support case.  After the action is filed, the court will set a hearing date and notice will be provided to both parties.  At the hearing, the parties may agree to paternity without the benefit of genetic testing, request genetic testing to determine paternity, or the court may hear evidence and make a decision about whether or not paternity should be established.  If genetic testing is ordered by the court, the parties will be tested and the court will hold off on deciding the issue of paternity until the genetic testing results are available to the court.  Either parent or the county prosecutor's Title IV-D child support office may request genetic testing, commonly know as DNA testing.

For more information about different ways of establishing paternity and its importance to the child, please click on the following links:

For assistance with establishing paternity, contact the local county health department or the local county IV-D prosecutor's office.  A private attorney may also be able to assist in establishing paternity.

For sample Paternity Affidavit forms, click on the following links:


Genetic Testing

A legal DNA test follows a Chain of Custody documentation process to ensure you receive accurate and legally defensible results.  Genetic testing must be performed by an accredited laboratory.  A home paternity test would not be admissible for legal purposes.

This list of accredited laboratories located throughout Indiana is provided as a courtesy only and is not a list of laboratories recommended or endorsed by the Child Support Bureau.

Please contact laboratories directly for current pricing and test locations.

Laboratory Name and Weblink

Phone Number

 Any Lab Test Now     Multiple - see website
 DNA Diagnostics Center   (800) 362-2368
 DNA Paternity Testing, LLC      (317) 308-6482
 DNA People Diagnostics      (877) 362-3623
 DNA Testing Center, Inc   (888) 875-7574
 Genelex   (800) 523-3080
 IDENTIGENE   (888) 404-4363
 Indiana Blood Center   (800) 632-4722, option 1, ext 5237
 Labcorp    (800) 742-3944