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What unmarried parents need to know about paternal rights in Ohio

On Behalf of | Nov 8, 2021 | Family Law

Unmarried parents, especially fathers, need to understand how paternal rights work in Ohio. Each state has its own rules regarding this area of the law. In Ohio, unmarried fathers don’t have legal child custody rights without a court order. Unmarried mothers automatically receive sole child custody upon proving they gave birth to the child.

Presumption of paternity

It’s important to know that Ohio family law automatically assumes a man is the father if he was in a marriage with the mother within 300 days of the child’s birth. Thus, men who recently divorced their spouses should stay aware if she has a baby within 300 days of the marriage officially ending.

This same 300-day rule applies to couples who attempted to marry as well. Even if the court invalidated your marriage, Ohio could still presume the man is the father.

How to prove a man is the father

Men could use evidence of sexual intercourse with the mother around the time of the baby’s conception to help prove paternity. Genetic test results and medical evidence of the man’s paternity are additional methods of proving paternity in order for the court to grant him equivalent parental rights.

Assuming both parents are in agreement of who the father is, they could sign a Voluntary Affidavit of Paternity. You should do this as quickly as possible after the child’s birth to avoid issues. When two unmarried people disagree about paternity, either parent has the right to file a paternity lawsuit in Ohio. If a mother wants to prove the man is the father, she could start a paternity lawsuit just as a man could if he wants to prove he is the father.

Ohio usually doesn’t assume that a mother’s partner is the father of her child when they aren’t married. Thus, it’s important for the parents to promptly sign a Voluntary Affidavit of Paternity if they agree on paternity or to file a paternity lawsuit if they disagree.