Ohio child custody laws are complex to navigate. And since child custody laws in Ohio vary based on your marital status, unmarried parents need to understand their rights fully.

Many factors go into determining child custody for unmarried parents, but the first step is to establish paternity. Until paternity is legally established, unmarried mothers maintain sole custody of their children. Once paternity is confirmed in the eyes of the law, unmarried parents have standing to seek an allocation of parental rights and responsibilities including custody and parenting time with the children.

Unmarried Parents and Child Custody Laws in Ohio

How is Paternity Established in Ohio?

Unmarried fathers must jump through a few hoops to establish their paternity in Ohio. The easiest way to establish paternity is for both parents to sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity Affidavit and file it with the Central Paternity Registry.

If an Acknowledgement has not been filed, unmarried fathers must present evidence that concretely demonstrates parenthood to be considered for any visitation or custody rights. At this point, a DNA test should be requested and ordered by the court. Once the results come back, assuming the child is determined to be the Father’s child, the Court can then issue orders for custody/parenting time for the Father.

Any of the following evidence would suffice in a court of law:

  • Evidence of sexual intercourse with the mother around the time of conception
  • An expert opinion relating to the probability of the man’s paternity
  • Genetic test results relating to the man’s paternity
  • Medical evidence pertaining to the man’s paternity based on physician testing
  • Any other concrete evidence that’s related to paternity

Until this information is provided and the father is registered with the Putative Father Registry, an unmarried mother maintains sole custody and has the ability to make all decisions regarding the wellbeing of the child or children involved.

Should Unmarried Parents Have a Child Custody Lawyer in Ohio?

In Ohio, child custody lawyers know the specific laws and procedures that apply to both unmarried mothers and fathers. When navigating a custody battle, a lawyer can help parents find a solution without any stress or complications for the children involved.

When contemplating if a child custody lawyer is necessary, there are a few reasons that make it wise to have a lawyer:

  1. The other parent is equipped with a lawyer.
    If the other parent in the custody arrangement is working with an attorney, it is in your best interest to secure yourself a trusted Ohio custody lawyer for yourself. A lawyer can help you navigate the ins and outs of identifying paternity and establishing custody. Having someone in your corner with knowledge of the process lets you lean on their expertise to work towards a positive outcome.
  2. An unmarried father is attempting to establish paternity with the courts.
    Establishing paternity through the court system requires concrete evidence presented and accepted by the court. By working with a trusted lawyer, you can find your path to paternity more easily and get it settled with the courts promptly. Unmarried fathers have no rights over the child or children involved until paternity is established.
  3. An unmarried mother is seeking to protect her rights and interests.
    As an unmarried mother, it is in your best interest to protect your child and establish a visitation or custody agreement that is fair to both parties. Working with a lawyer can give you the confidence you need to protect your rights and work toward a positive outcome for everyone involved, especially your child.
  4. There are questions about an unwed mother or father’s individual rights.
    If you don’t have a law degree, navigating child custody in Ohio can be complex. Since there is nothing more important than your child’s well-being, it’s in your best interest to partner with a lawyer who can gracefully navigate the child custody process to yield favorable resolutions.

When it comes to navigating unmarried parental rights in Ohio, things can get messy and complicated if you don’t have a qualified attorney in your corner. The process of pursuing paternity, establishing your rights as an unmarried mother, or maintaining a healthy balance for your child is complex. Tackle the process with grace and dignity by working with a compassionate and knowledgeable attorney in Ohio.

Learn More About Our Columbus Ohio Child Custody Lawyer

The Law Office of Kenneth R. Kline LLC is located in Columbus, Ohio, and proudly serves both traditional and non-traditional families. Our goal is to help parents understand their rights and work towards a positive outcome. Please contact us with any questions.

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