Unmarried Parents' Rights in Ohio

Nothing in life is as important to you as your children. If you are not married, you may need to take some legal action to protect your parental rights and make sure your children have the financial resources they need.

In Ohio, when a child is born to unmarried parents, the mother automatically has sole custody and is designated as the sole residential parent. This means that the baby lives with the mother and she can make all decisions, such as school, doctors, and child care.

If you are the baby’s father, you do not automatically have any legal rights regarding your child, including custody or visitation. In fact, unless you establish paternity, you do not have any legal relationship to the child at all.

Paternity and What it Means

Establishing paternity means that a man is legally recognized as the child’s father, but this does not automatically grant any custody or parenting time (visitation) rights. If the father would like to have either of these rights, he will have to file an action in court. If the mother wants to receive child support, she must obtain an order, either from the court or child support enforcement agency.

Ohio, like most other states, has several different ways to establish paternity. When parents are not married, the law allows the biological father and mother to sign and file what is known as an “Acknowledgement of Paternity by Affidavit.” This form is legally binding, and the father gives up the right to DNA testing.

The father or a child support enforcement agency may also file a paternity (parentage) action in juvenile court. The mother does not have to agree to this. If DNA testing is necessary, the court can issue an order requiring the mother, father, and child to appear for testing.

Ohio’s “putative father registry” allows unmarried fathers to voluntarily acknowledge paternity of a child and requires them to provide their contact information. The contact information is placed into a database and fathers have the right to be notified if any significant changes occur in the child’s status, such as if the child is placed in foster care or put up for adoption.

Establishing and Protecting the Rights of All Unmarried Ohio Parents

At Massucci Law Group, we work with both fathers and mothers who are facing challenges related to their child's paternity. Whether your paternity conflict is related to child custody or child support, we have the legal knowledge and experience to help you resolve your family law matter.

Based in Columbus, Ohio, Massucci Law Group serves family law clients in Franklin County and throughout Central Ohio. We invite you to learn more about our team, our strengths, our services, and to contact us to schedule a consultation.

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