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Who is the legal parent when an Ohio unmarried couple has a kid?

On Behalf of | Oct 7, 2022 | Child Custody |

It has become increasingly popular to forego traditional marriage in lieu of co-habitation. As with all life decisions, there are upsides and downsides to this approach. Some of the downsides become clear if the couple has children. But, does having a child in Ohio when unmarried alter parental rights? The answers may be surprising.

Ohio law for unmarried parents

Ohio law states that an unmarried mother gains legal custody of a child born to unmarried parents. This means, on the day the child is born the child has one legal parent, the birth mother, who makes all decisions on behalf of the child. The only exception to this code is for a mother who is convicted or pleads guilty to rape or assault if that act resulted in the child.

What can the father do?

If you are an unmarried father of a child and the mother denied you visitation, you may have to go to court if you cannot amicably resolve the situation between you and the mother. If no resolution can be reached, you could file a request in Ohio family court to establish a visitation order.

The court can require you to prove paternity. Typically, paternity is established through paternity testing. Alternatively, you could ask the mother to sign an affidavit in which you both agree that you are the father. Once your paternity is confirmed, you would then also be able to seek custody, partial or full, of the child. You may be responsible for child support as well.

What if I need assistance?

If all the legal requirements to establish paternity seem confusing, you are not alone. Cincinnati, Ohio, fathers are further shocked that they have zero rights until the mother, or a family court judge, grants those rights. This is a daunting task, but a family law attorney sensitive to your needs and goals can be an asset in assisting you with establishing a custody order.

If you are the unmarried father of a child in Ohio, state law allows you to seek your rights. You may just have to establish paternity, and the guidance of an attorney can help you, whether your situation is simple or complex.