Unmarried Father Rights in Ohio
The law in Ohio with regard to parental rights for unmarried fathers is particularly harsh. An unmarried father has zero rights with respect to his child until he proactively takes steps to establish paternity. Even if an unmarried father has established paternity and is paying child support, that does not necessarily mean that he is entitled to see the child. In Ohio, the mother of any child born outside of marriage automatically is granted 100% custody and all other rights with respect to the child. A father has certain legal actions they must take before they get any rights.
Additionally, the father of a child born outside of marriage will still have the obligations of fatherhood under Ohio law (such as paying child support), but will have no rights of fatherhood (like the right to spend time with his child). Hiring an attorney may be necessary to establish paternity and to establish visitation time and custody rights with the child. The law firm of Harris & Engler is located in Columbus, Ohio, and its attorneys help fathers across Central Ohio with their child custody and child support issues for children born outside of marriage. If you need help establishing enforceable rights to your child, then call at attorney at Harris & Engler at (614) 610-9988.
How to Establish Paternity in OhioA married father of a child is presumed to be the father of the child in Ohio and is accordingly automatically granted custody rights of his children. However, an unmarried father of a child has absolutely no rights with respect to the child until he has taken certain steps to establish parentage and then taken further steps to establish child visitation time. A father can establish paternity by:
- Signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity at the hospital when the child is born;
- After the child is born - filing an Acknowledgement of Paternity at the local health department or the county Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA);
- After the child is born - filing a Complaint in the Juvenile Court to establish paternity and allocate parental rights.
How to Establish Visitation and Custody as an Unmarried Father in OhioEven if you've established paternity, as outlined above, you still do not automatically have any custody rights or rights to visit with your child. Establishing paternity simply legally establishes that you are the father of the child, establishes child support payments, and provides for certain other rights and obligations in the law (such as establishing your child as yours for inheritence and estate planning purposes). However, you do not have custody or visitation rights until the appropriate court in your jurisdiction has approved and a Judge has signed a court order granting you some form of custody and visitation rights.
Depending on how well the unmarried father and the mother of the child get along, sometimes all the details of custody and visitation can be determined before any legal action is filed, the paperwork is prepared by an attorney, and then filed with the local juvenile court as an "Agreed Parenting Plan" that is more or less simply waiting approval and the signature of the Judge. In a Shared Parenting Plan or Agreed Parenting Plan, everything can be agreed to such as the amount of child support, specific visitation schedules, and specifically what kind of custody rights (legal decision making power) each parent has over the child. As an unmarried father in Ohio, none of these rights become legally enforceable until the appropriate paperwork is filed in Court and approved by a Judge.
The law firm of Harris & Engler helps unmarried fathers and families in the Central Ohio area make appropriate arrangements to establish custody and visitation rights, and peg or modify child support obligations appropriately. An attorney at Harris & Engler will meet with you in order to ascertain your goals and then come up with an appropriate plan in order for you to accomplish your goals for legally enforceable parenting rights. Sometimes things can be worked out before going to Court and sometimes all the details must be worked out after a lawsuit has been filed to establish parenting rights and parental responsibilities - every situation is unique. If you would like to discuss your options with an attorney, then please call Harris & Engler.