Our Ohio unmarried parents custody attorneys will tell you the law, tell you in plain English, and give you honest advice regarding the best course of action to achieve your goals. We don’t believe in telling you what you want to hear simply to get your business. We’ll listen to you, discuss your goals, and give you our honest opinion. If there is an option that may bring a good result without litigation, we’ll tell you about it, and we’ll help you get there. If going to court is your best option, our experienced attorneys are ready to help you every step of the way.
When it comes to unmarried parents custody in Ohio, it can be hard to sort the fact from the fiction. Our Ohio family law attorneys are here to help you understand your rights, and make a plan that is
best for you and your child. To do that, you need to know the facts and the law.
FACT: In Ohio, when a child is born to an unmarried woman, she has sole custody of the child at birth, at least until the father has a court order giving him his father’s rights. Ohio Revised Code 3109.042 says 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.
The idea that single mothers in Ohio always KEEP sole custody is FICTION. Once a father goes to court, if he wants shared parenting (sometimes referred to as joint custody or shared custody), except in extraordinary circumstances, he can usually get it. If the mother is unable to properly parent or unwilling to share the child, the father may end up being the sole residential parent and legal custodian of the child and the mother may end up with visitation. It is a myth that unmarried fathers can only get visitation.
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FACT: There are many ways an unmarried father can establish paternity in Ohio. Paternity can even be established without DNA and without going through child support.
- Acknowledge paternity by affidavit. This is commonly done at the hospital time of the child’s birth, but can be done later at a local registrar, health department or Child Support Enforcement Agency. Unless the parents want to start child support proceedings, we do not recommend that they do this at the Child Support Enforcement Agency. The mother’s consent is required, and the father is giving up the option to have DNA testing before paternity is established. This is how unmarried fathers get their name on the child’s birth certificate.
- Participate in DNA testing. Paternity can be established by administrative order through the appropriate child support enforce agency (The mother’s consent is required, unless the agency initiates child support collection action on its own because the mother received welfare or public assistance.)
- File an action in court to establish parentage (paternity). The court can order paternity testing, and the mother’s consent is not required.
Q. Do unmarried fathers get visitation as soon as they establish paternity.
No. This is FICTION. Unmarried fathers have no rights to visitation until they get them from a court order. Unmarried fathers in Ohio CAN get visitation while they are in the process of establishing paternity. To learn more about establishing parenting time, custody, shared parenting or visitation in Ohio, you may visit the following pages:
Q. Does payment of child support legally entitle the father of a child to exercise parenting time with the child.?
No. A court must make an order allocating parental rights and responsibilities before the father of the child of an unmarried female has the legal right to parenting time with the child. Ohio law provides that once parentage has been established, a court designating the residential parent and legal custodian of a child of an unmarried mother shall treat the mother and father as standing upon an equality when making the designation.