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Unmarried fathers could benefit from help in custody cases

Under Ohio law, unmarried mothers are granted sole custody of their children at the time they give birth. Unmarried fathers have the right to seek custody or time with their kids, but it isn't automatically granted as it is with mothers.

Instead, fathers have a bit of work to do.

The first step is to establish the paternity of the baby. That can be easy or difficult, depending on the parents' relationship at the time of the child's birth.

In many cases, all that is required is for both parents to sign a document acknowledging paternity and filing it with the appropriate jurisdiction. In some cases where paternity is disputed, a DNA test will determine if the man is the baby's father, and a court can proceed with its duties once the facts are known.

Once a court has confirmed and declared who the child's father is, the man can seek custody rights or child visitation.

The next step, then, is for parents to come up with a parenting plan. It will spell out who will have primary custody or if there will be joint custody or visitation periods and who will make decisions when it comes to things such as education or health care.

If the parents can't come to an agreement on their own, either party can seek help from the court through a custody hearing. Courts typically will make decisions that focus on the best interest of the child, which judges usually consider to be having both parents involved in raising their youngster. If one parent can prove to the court that visitation or custody by the opposite parent wouldn't be beneficial to the child, a judge can deny custody.

Nothing we do in our lives is more important than parenting, and we shouldn't leave anything to chance when it comes to our rights to play an active role in bringing up our kids. An Ohio attorney who is experienced in such cases can be an important person to have on your side.

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