Stay up to date with the latest legal tips and information.

Preserving Your Rights If You Believe You’ve Fathered a Child: Indiana’s Putative Father Registry

Jul 24, 2023

Author: Heidi Koeneman

Did you know that there is no legal presumption or legal rights to a child if you are unmarried?   Whereas a  married man is presumed to be the father of any child born during the marriage,  if you’ve in a long-term relationship but never married or believe that you may have fathered a child, there are no legal presumptions working in your favor. An unmarried father or potential father must take affirmative steps to establish his own paternity or risk any child being put up for adoption, with or without your consent or even knowledge.

An unmarried father must go through legal proceedings to establish himself as the father of a child and to obtain enforceable custody and parenting time rights.  But more importantly, if you and your girlfriend are expecting a child together and you don’t take affirmative action during the pregnancy, you could end up losing any rights to the child.

If a child is born and the mother places the child for adoption before a man has taken steps to establish his paternity, then there may not be any obligation to inform the father of the adoption.

The result of this could be that someone adopts the child and the man’s rights to be that child’s father are extinguished, possibly forever.

To prevent your child from being adopted away without your knowledge or consent, Indiana has established the Putative Father Registry, maintained by the Indiana Department of Health. This is a registry maintained by the state of Indiana and includes a list of men who have self-identified themselves as possibly being the father of a child born out of wedlock. Adding your name to the Registry that includes the mother’s name helps to protect that your child will not be adopted without your knowledge or consent.

The registry is checked whenever a petition for adoption of a child is filed. If someone has identified himself as possibly being the father of this child, notification is sent to him that an adoption proceeding has been filed.

This then gives you the opportunity to intervene or object or have some sort of say in the fate of the child to be adopted.

Asserting yourself as the putative father means that you can oppose the adoption, or he ask to stay the adoption while you establish  paternity and seek custody or support of the child.

Here’s a link to the Indiana Putative Father Registration Form:

While this is an easy form to complete, understanding your rights  as a presumptive father and enforcing those rights after your child are born can be easier to navigate with an attorney.