What Rights Do I Have as a Father if I Never Married My Child’s Mother?

According to Ohio law, “an unmarried female who gives birth to a child is the sole residential parent and legal custodian of the child until a court of competent jurisdiction issues an order designating another person as the residential parent and legal custodian. A court designating the residential parent and legal custodian of a child described in this section shall treat the mother and father as standing upon an equality when making the designation.”

So in order for a father to have visitation and other parental rights, he must apply for a court order. There are many ways a father can establish paternity in these cases, which is a step towards gaining those custodial or visitation rights with your child.  The first way to claim paternity is with an affidavit called the Paternity Acknowledgement Affidavit. This is done shortly after the child’s birth, or it can be done later at the local registrar, health department, or child support enforcement agency. It must be done with the mother’s consent. Dads need to be aware that filing the affidavit takes away the option of having DNA testing to establish paternity.

And that brings us to the second way to establish paternity, which is through DNA testing. The appropriate child support enforcement agency may issue an order for DNA testing, especially where the mother is on welfare or other state support. The mother’s consent is also required in this instance.

The third way to establish paternity is by a court order. This is when the father files with the court, and the court orders paternity testing and the mother’s consent is not required. Unmarried dads may also get visitation while they’re in the process of establishing paternity through these methods.

The court will also look at your history with the child. Have you paid child support? Have you been involved in the child’s life to whatever extent possible? Have you attempted to have a regular visitation with the child? These are all factors that court will consider in looking at visitation and custodial issues.

Central Ohio Custody Attorney

Our custody attorneys understand the challenges involved in custody disputes and place a priority on getting you through the legal complexities of this difficult time in the best way possible. The assistance of a custody attorney who has a wealth of experience to call upon in serving your needs as a client at this challenging and trying time is essential in the custody process.