Typically, most paternity cases in the State of Indiana are brought by the local Title IV-D (Child Support) Office. This office is run by the local prosecutor for your county. What generally happens to initiate a case being filed, is that the mother or another person caring for the child in question receives some form of public assistance. By receiving these benefits, the State of Indiana will then need to do everything it can to establish paternity so that orders for child support, health insurance, and medical support can be established.
Paternity is established in one of four ways. The father acknowledges paternity by signing a paternity affidavit (which isn't a great idea as I have stated in other legal guides); the father can admit to paternity at a hearing or through a stipulation; the father fails to appear for a court hearing on paternity after receiving proper notice; and the results of a genetic test show that the man in question is the biological father of the child.
This article briefly focuses on why you should always consider a genetic test in a paternity case. In a true paternity establishment case, you have an absolute right to request a genetic test in the State of Indiana. Ind. Code 31-14-6-1.
In order for the Court to determine that the a man is a child's biological father, the test must come back with 99% certainty. Out of the thousands of tests that I have seen, most come back with a 99.99% certainty or higher.
Why is a genetic test important? First, it eliminates all doubts. Even if you feel you are certain now, you may not be so certain in the future if someone says anything that calls into question whether or not you are the childs father. It is a lot harder (if not impossible in many cases) to re-open the issue of paternity after you have admitted to being the father without the benefit of genetic testing.
This brings me to the second point. What if you are not the father? Perhaps you care for the mother and the child, but we are talking legal responsibility and in Indiana that responsibility runs until the age of 21 (of course there are exceptions). Let's say that you have a $50 per week support order. That's about $2,500 each year. Over the course of 21 years that becomes about $52,500. Child support is also one of the few debts that can lead to incarceration and possible felony charges. Before being faced with this type of responsibility, it is important that you know for certain that it is truly your legal responsibility to face.