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Ohio Child Custody Laws For Unmarried Parents

Under Ohio law, unmarried mothers automatically have sole custody of their children, even after paternity is established. However, once paternity is established, unmarried fathers then have equal standing to seek custody and parenting time, but the father must initiate a custody action in the court to get orders that grant him custody and/or parenting time rights. Until such orders are issued by the court, unmarried fathers have only the right to pay child support.

How Is Paternity Established In Ohio?

In Ohio, fathers can establish paternity by completing an acknowledgment of paternity affidavit at the hospital when the child is born. If the affidavit is not recanted within 60 days, the establishment of paternity is deemed final. If the father does not execute an acknowledgement of paternity affidavit, either parent may initiate action to establish paternity through the local Child Support Enforcement Agency or the court.

How Can Fathers Obtain Child Custody And Visitation Rights?

Unmarried fathers in Ohio must go to court to establish their child custody and parenting time rights.

Until paternity is established and the father gains child custody rights through the court, the mother is free to relocate anywhere and make all decisions about education, medical care and religious upbringing for the children without input from the father. If paternity has not been established and the father has not registered with the Putative Father Registry, the mother may put the child up for adoption without the knowledge and consent of the father.

At the law firm of Sowald Sowald Anderson Hawley & Johnson in Columbus, Ohio, our family law attorneys are experienced in representing unmarried fathers who wish to establish custody and visitation rights, as well as in representing unmarried mothers seeking to protect their rights and interests.

What Rights Do Mothers Have In Ohio?

In our state, unmarried mothers automatically have sole custody — until paternity is established through a voluntary declaration or a court order. Sole custody is when the child lives with one parent and this parent has the right to make all legal decisions about the child. Upon establishing paternity, the father has equal standing with the mother and has the right to seek custody and visitation. Unmarried mothers also have the right to petition the court for child support after establishing paternity. In rare cases, the father seeks child support from the mother.

Can Mothers Move Out Of State With Their Child Right Away?

If an unmarried father has not established paternity, an unmarried mother has the right to relocate outside of Ohio. Mothers can also move out-of-state if they have sole custody of the child. However, if paternity is established and the parents share custody, the mother needs to seek permission from the child’s father or from the court first. The child’s biological father has the right to contest the relocation if it affects the custody and visitation arrangement.

Schedule A Consultation With One Of Our Attorneys To Establish Your Child Custody Rights

To schedule a consultation about child custody laws for unmarried parents, father’s rights and unmarried mother’s rights, call 380-217-3322 or fill out the contact form on this website. Our law office is on Fifth Street in downtown Columbus.