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Protection for Unmarried Parents in Indiana

The legal protections that unmarried parents in Indiana receive is nearly identical to that of married parents, except for a few variations. While the court decides custody using the "best interests of the child" standard and not on the parents' marital status, there are still a few important differences in child custody laws for unmarried parents.

For example, the custody determination and visitation are part of the divorce proceedings for a married couple, but unmarried parents must take additional action before child custody and visitation issues are addressed. Specifically, an unmarried father must be established as a child's legal father.

Protection for Unmarried Parents in Indiana at a Glance

Even when the relevant statutes aren't lengthy, it never hurts to read a breakdown of the law in plain English. Read on for information about the protection for unmarried parents in Indiana.


Indiana Code:

Establishing Paternity

A husband is automatically deemed a legal father to any child born of the marriage. In contrast, an unwed father must establish paternity before any parental rights and duties are triggered.

Custody and Parenting Time


Whether married or unmarried, a parent with legal custody has authority to make legal decisions concerning the child's upbringing, including education, religion, and health care decisions. Physical custody refers to the parent with whom the child lives most of the time.

The court will award joint legal custody if it's in the best interests of the child. However, if the court does award joint legal custody, it doesn't require an equal division of physical custody.

Parenting Time

The parent that doesn't get physical custody of the child will get time to spend with the child through visitation, which is referred to as "parenting time."

Parents Rights to Information

All parents (including unmarried parents) have the right to specific information about the child, including the following:

  • Access to school records;
  • Access to medical and mental health records; and
  • Notification if the custodial parent intends to relocate with the child.

A custodial parent must file a "Notice of the Intent to Relocate" with the court at least 90 days prior to the proposed move.

Notice must include the following information:

  • The new address;
  • A statement that gives reasons for the relocation; and
  • A proposal for a revised custody agreement.

After the notice, the non-moving parent has 60 days to file an objection with the court. If the parent does so, then the court will have a hearing to determine whether to approve the relocation, based on the best interests of the child.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Protection for Unmarried Parents in Indiana: Related Resources

Discuss Child Custody Law for Unmarried Parents with an Indiana Attorney

As an unmarried parent in Indiana, you might have additional questions about your protections under the law. Talking to an experienced lawyer can help you to clarify your understanding and to enforce your rights. Contact an Indiana attorney today to get a handle on your case.

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