Upon the dissolution of a marriage, child custody questions are a paramount concern. Who gets custody of the children? How is this determined? People may wonder if the courts in Ohio are gender biased.
As in most states in the union, in Ohio, neither mother nor father in a marriage are given preference based on gender. The best interests of the child guide the judge’s decision regarding custody and many factors are considered. However, if the parents are not married, the legal point of view changes abruptly.
Born out of wedlock
In Ohio, if the unmarried parents split up and go their separate ways, barring extreme circumstances, the law recognizes the mother as the sole residential parent and legal custodian of the child. This assumption holds until the court names another person as residential parent and legal custodian.
The onus, then, is on the father of the child to prove paternity before he can assert his rights and take on his responsibilities as a parent.
A paternity action
There are several ways to resolve this. The mother can sign an affidavit declaring the father’s paternity. However, if the situation between the two parties is contentious, the father may have to establish paternity through a Child Support Enforcement Agency or Juvenile Court Action. A DNA test usually follows. Then, and only then, can the father be a part of the parenting discussion in the eyes of the law.
The laws continue to change. Ultimately, the courts will seek what is in the best interest of the child. With so much at stake, it’s wise to rely on experienced attorneys for guidance and representation.