When a child is born to an unmarried woman, Ohio law states that the unmarried woman has sole legal custody of the child automatically (by operation of law). When a child is born to a married couple, both the mother and father have legal custody of the child. But can an unwed mother stop a father from seeing their child? What about a married mother?

Since an unmarried mother has sole custody of the child, she can technically keep the father away until 2 things occur (1) paternity is established; (2) a court issues an order for the Father to have parental rights. In Ohio, a father has no rights to their child unless he is married to the mother at the time of birth or establishes paternity and obtains a Court Order granting him custody, shared parenting, or visitation rights (i.e. parental rights).

If the father doesn’t have a court order for visitation, the mother can decide how often and when he sees the child or if he sees the child at all. In this circumstance, the child’s father doesn’t have parental rights until he proactively takes steps to establish paternity through the courts or child support enforcement agency. Once paternity is established, unmarried fathers can work with a lawyer well-versed in family law to fight for custody/shared parenting and/or parenting time.

So yes, an unwed mother can stop the father from seeing the child.

Remember that an unmarried father can establish his child-parent relationship by providing paternity evidence and then fighting for custody and parenting time rights. Paternity can be established by both parents signing a paternity affidavit.

The answer to this question changes when the mother and father are married. Married fathers have more rights than unmarried fathers in regards to child custody and visitation. In this case, one parent cannot stop the other parent from seeing the child unless a court order states otherwise. Temporary orders can be issued in a divorce case so that each parent’s parenting time and rights are defined while the divorce is pending.

What Have Some Married Mothers Done to Keep the Father From Seeing the Child?

False domestic violence or sexual abuse allegations. If a married woman wants to keep the father away from the child for certain reasons, she must get a civil or criminal protection order through the courts. In order to file a restraining order against the father of the child, however, certain steps must be followed.

A civil protection order (CPO) is a common form of restraining order in Ohio. It’s issued by the Domestic Relations Court to protect victims of domestic violence, and the goal is to prevent any further violence.

To get a CPO, the mother must file a petition with the Domestic Relations Court. Unmarried mothers can also seek this type of protection order to keep a child away from the father. She doesn’t have to be married or getting a divorce to request this type of restraining order in the state of Ohio.

It’s important to note that a judge reserves the right to issue a CPO on an emergency basis if a victim is considered to be in immediate danger. This order is designed to limit the actions of the aggressor through:

  • Proximity
  • A change of residence
  • Spousal support
  • Temporary change of custody
  • And more

This type of protection order keeps a father away from a child in terms of proximity. It also may require the father to:

  • Refrain from abusing, harassing, and annoying the mother/child(ren)
  • Have no contact with the mother or child(ren)
  • Refrain from entering the home, school, business or place of employment (or those of the children)
  • Leave the mother’s residence
  • Give child custody to the mother
  • Pay monthly support
  • Pay rent, mortgage, and/or utility payments
  • See a counselor
  • And more

As an Ohio Bar Association Certified Family Law Specialist, we have more than 20 years of experience navigating the complexities of custody cases and restraining orders. Our goal is to keep you and your family safe, comfortable, and moving toward a positive resolution. If you need help getting a protection order to keep a parent away from a child, reach out to us.

Columbus Ohio Divorce Lawyer

The Law Offices of Kenneth R. Kline LLC is honored to work with both traditional and non-traditional families to assist them through extraordinarily difficult times. Please contact us with any questions.

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