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Ohio Child Custody Part 1

COLUMBUS CUSTODY LAWYEROhio custody is not a simple process.  Hopefully this article will provide you with a roadmap through the process.  The first question you have to look at is…

Were the parents married when the child was born?

The first issue that must be determined, according to Ohio law, is whether the parents of the child were married when the child was born.  Whether the parents are married determines which laws govern the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities.  The term “allocation of parental rights and responsibilities” comes from the Ohio Revised Code.  In plain english, it means the division  of parental rights and responsibilties.  Time with your child is a parental right, and support of your child is a parental responsibility.  The term “allocation” is more accurate than the word “division” because most rights and responsibilties apply equally to both parents, rather than one parent or the other.  For example, it is the responsibility of both parents to supervise and support their child, whether the parents live together or not.

CALL NOW  at (614) 225-9316 or contact us by e-mail.


COLUMBUS CUSTODY LAWYERSIf the parents of the Child were married when the child was born, then Ohio Law presumes that the mother’s husband is the Father of the Child.  This is a rebuttable presumption, which means that it is only legally true until a court or administrative order determines that it is not true.  Generally, this is done by paternity testing (DNA testing).

CALL NOW  at (614) 225-9316


COLUMBUS OHIO CUSTODY AND FAMILY LAW LAWYEROhio Revised Code 3109.042 provides that an unmarried female who gives birth to a child is the sole residential parent and legal custodian of the Child until a court of competent jurisdiction issues an order designating another person as the residential parent and legal custodian.

CALL NOW  at (614) 225-9316


COLUMBUS OHIO CUSTODY LAWYERIn Ohio, unmarried fathers have no rights at all until they prove they are the Father of the Child (paternity).  The Law takes this perspective – it is obvious who the Mother is if the Child was born in a hospital – the Mother was present and the doctors and nurses saw her give birth.  But, any man could be the child’s Father.  So, the Law requires the Father who is not married to the Mother (and thus not protected by the legal presumption of paternity), to legally establish paternity before they have visitation, shared parenting or custody of their child.

CALL NOW  at (614) 225-9316 or contact us by e-mail.


Q. What if an unmarried or married man had sex with an unmarried woman and he wants to preserve the OPTION to have Father’s Rights, but he is not sure that he wants to be involved in the child’s life?

A man who has had sex with a woman in Ohio, and wants to preserve his rights in case a child is conceived, must register with the Ohio Putative Father Registry (1-888-313-3100). Even fathers under the age of 18 may register with the Ohio Putative Father Registry.

CALL NOW  at (614) 225-9316 or contact us by e-mail.

For more information about the Ohio Putative Father Registry, and the deadline to register in order to preserve a father’s right to be informed before a child is adopted, see the Father’s Rights web page of our site:

For additional instructions regarding how to register for the Ohio Putative Father Registry, click here.

COLUMBUS OHIO CHILD CUSTODY ATTORNEYIT IS IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER that sometimes, when children go into the custody of Children’s Services, the parental rights are terminated without the Ohio Putative Father Registry ever being checked.  There have been cases where fathers appealed this decision, and the court did NOT overturn the adoption.  So, while registering with the putative father registry provides SOME protection, it is not fool proof.  The only fool proof way to preserve a father’s rights is to get them established by a court and exercise them responsibly.

Virginia Cornwell is an Ohio Child Custody Lawyer who also practices in , visitation, shared  parenting, paternity, never married parents, married parents, and the process of obtaining custody in Ohio.  To see the remainder of the Custody in Ohio series, click the links below


  1. N. says

    My husband and I were married 2 weeks before our daughter was born. We married prodominently so she wasnt born out of wedlock. I divorced him in August for becoming aggressive with me, especially when Im holding her, along with doing nothing to help me the entire extent of her life so far. I have temperary full custody. He didnt get a job until after I filed, and he didn’t bother to extend an offer of help until after the guardian got involved. I’ve basically raised her by myself since she was born. She is happy, healthy, we’ve bonded perfectly, and she is growing in every aspect. Im petrified of him, and scared for my baby’s safety if she gets over night visitation. What should I know for my baby’s safety?

  2. S says

    To Whom it May Concern- I pray this finds you well and catches your attention. We are a family in Chardon, Ohio trying to obtain visitation rights. My brother is a victim of parental alienation. His daughter lives with his ex and every time he tried to see her the family refused and said “It’s not a good time.” Every time he called, they pretended not to hear him. He filed a petition for visitation 5 years ago. His ex went to the courthouse the following week and got married so her new husband could file for adoption. For the last 5 years we have been battling the adoption case, and only yesterday we received the letter from Judge Grendell that he is going to ALLOW the adoption. How can he allow the adoption if my brother WANTS to be in his daughters life? My brother his on her birth certificate and has been paying child support. My brother’s ex, has been lying to their daughter her entire life about who her dad is. Parents who alienate children from there other parent should be prosecuted for this crime- “legal kidnapping” as this is nothing less than a form of child abuse!

  3. L says

    Hello, i havent had custody of my daughter since 2009. The reason is i took the wrong roads with the wrong people. I now am married and i have my son still. I would like help gettimg my daughter back and how i can do this. I havent seen her or had her forever and it is killing me bad

  4. Sharon says

    If the father wants shared parenting he must file a motion to court 30 days before the court date. does the motion have to be written up by an attorney?


  1. […] Now, the law is SLOWLY heading more toward equality for mothers and fathers – but, at least in Ohio, that is only the direction of the law, not its current address.  When a father seeks to be involved in his child’s life from the very start, he is much more likely to be treated equally in the courts.  Unfortunately, if the parents cannot agree as to how that should happen, even after trying mediation, the only path for a father to establish his rights is litigation.  Here is a detailed explanation of the course litigation takes in Ohio: […]

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