Ohio 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. This means that the unmarried mother has SOLE CUSTODY of the child.
If paternity is established by the father, and the father files a petition in court requesting custody (allocation of parental rights and responsibilities) Ohio law requires the court to “treat the mother and father as standing upon an equality when making the designation”. This means that the court cannot give a preference to either parent based solely upon gender. However, if the mother and father cease being a couple, the mother often becomes the primary caregiver of the child while the father establishes paternity and/or goes to court to establish his rights. This can give an advantage to mother.
Q. What are the parental rights of married mothers in Ohio?
Ohio Revised Code 3109.03 states: “When husband and wife are living separate and apart from each other, or are divorced, and the question as to the parental rights and responsibilities for the care of their children and the place of residence and legal custodian of their children is brought before a court of competent jurisdiction, they shall stand upon an equality as to the parental rights and responsibilities for the care of their children and the place of residence and legal custodian of their children, so far as parenthood is involved”.
This means that when married parents are living in different households, and a court is asked to allocate parental rights and responsibilities, the court cannot give a preference to either parent based solely upon gender.