Under Ohio law, when an unmarried woman gives birth to a child, she is automatically considered the sole residential and legal guardian unless the court has already granted custody to someone else. As an unwed father, you’re likely wondering what an unmarried father’s rights in Ohio actually are, and when you should contact a father’s rights attorney.
Do Unmarried Fathers Have Rights in Ohio?
Until an unwed father establishes paternity rights and obtains a Court Order granting him custody, shared parenting, or parenting time, he has no rights. And just because paternity is established under Ohio law, it doesn’t automatically grant any custody or visitation rights to the minor child.
How to Establish Paternity in the State of Ohio
There are several ways to establish paternity in Ohio as an unwed father. If you have not yet taken any of the steps below, you may not be considered your child’s legal father, even if you are named as the father on the birth certificate.
- Sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity Affidavit: If you and the child’s mother both sign an affidavit agreeing that you are the father, you take on the responsibility to support the child. You can get an Acknowledgement of
Paternity Affidavit at the hospital at the time of the child’s birth, at your local health department, or from a Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA).
- Ask the CSEA to Help Establish Paternity: Either you or the child’s mother could reach out to your local Child Support Enforcement Agency to determine the child’s father’s identity. The CSEA will often order DNA testing, and if you are the father, you could be required to start paying child support.
- File a Complaint Through Court: To establish paternity, you have the option to file in court. The court will order DNA testing, and if you are the father, you could be required to start paying child support.
Many unmarried fathers believe that once paternity is established under Ohio law and they are paying child support, they automatically have the right to visit the child. That is not always the case. Establishing paternity legally recognizes that you are the father of the child, establishes child support payments, and provides other rights and obligations in the eyes of the law.
By working with a qualified unmarried father’s custody rights attorney, you can establish paternity and visitation time with one action by filing a complaint in the local juvenile court to establish paternity, custody, and visitation time. When it comes to something as important as your child’s future, you need someone in your corner who understands family law and can help you reach a swift and favorable resolution.
Columbus, Ohio Father’s Custody Rights Attorney
The Law Offices of Kenneth R. Kline LLC understands the importance of an unmarried father’s rights in Ohio. At Kenneth R. Kline, our goal is to help you work towards a brighter future for yourself, and more importantly, your child. Ohio custody laws are complex, and it isn’t your job to navigate them alone. Contact us for a risk-free consultation in Columbus.