This is Part 3 of a Columbus Ohio Child Custody Lawyer series on the Ohio Child Custody Process. DISCLAIMER
- Ohio Child Custody Part 1
- Ohio Child Custody Part 2
- Ohio Child Custody Part 4
- Ohio Child Custody Part 5
2. Establishing Paternity / Ohio DNA Testing.
Q. How can an Ohio father of the Child of an unmarried mother legally establish paternity?
- Acknowledge paternity by affidavit (This is commonly done at the time of the child’s birth, but can be done later at the local Registrar or Child Support Enforcement Agency, or CSEA. The Mother’s consent is required, and the Father is foregoing the option to have DNA tested before paternity is determined. A copy of the Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit can be found here.
- Participate in DNA testing and establish paternity by administrative order through the appropriate CSEA (The Mother’s consent is required, unless the Agency initiates child support collection action on its own because the Mother received welfare or assistance.)
- File an action in the Court to establish parentage and to allocate parental rights and responsibilities (The Court can order paternity testing, and the Mother’s consent is not required).
For a more in depth explanation of the methods of establishing paternity, see our Father’s Rights page:
For additional important information about establishing paternity in Ohio please visit the web page for Ohio Paternity Enhancement by clicking here.
Q. What if a child was born during a marriage, but the mother’s Husband is NOT the biological Father of the child? How can the Father legally establish that he is not the child’s Father, and therefore not responsible for child support?
This can be done either by:
- During a divorce case, by requesting the Court order DNA testing; or
- During an administrative child support proceeding, by requesting the Child Support Enforcement Agency, or CSEA conduct DNA testing (note, CSEA may refuse to do this because legally, paternity is already established through the presumption that a child born to married parents is the natural Child of the Husband. This presumption can be refuted by presentation of DNA evidence which conclusively establishes that the Husband is not the Father of the Child. However, if the Mother and Father both agree that the Husband is not the Father, CSEA may be more likely to cooperate with the request for DNA testing).
Note: usually a hospital will not allow an Acknowledgment of Paternity to be signed when a child is born to a married man. However, hospitals are not the only entities that can distribute paternity affidavits. Paternity affidavits can be signed and submitted by any citizen.
3. Establishing custody rights – getting started
DO I NEED TO HIRE AN OHIO CUSTODY, VISITATION OR SHARED PARENTING ATTORNEY?
For more information to help you decide whether or not you need to hire an attorney, please see our article on this topic:
CAN THE PARTIES REACH AN AGREEMENT ON THEIR OWN?
For parties who believe they can come to an agreement among themselves, each Party may still need the help of an Attorney to make sure that the documents they present to the Courts put into place the agreement that they made, with the legal effect they intended. If the Parties cannot agree between themselves, but are willing to try mediation to come to an agreement, this can sometimes be a solution to reaching middle ground. For more information about mediation, see our mediation article:
If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, then the custody case becomes contested.