Father’s Rights and Paternity

Father’s Rights and Paternity

A father of a child of an unmarried female who wants to establish Visitation or other Parental Rights and Responsibilities must first legally establish the he is in fact the father of the child at issue.  This can be done in the following ways:

If the father of the child of an unmarried female wishes to establish or determine Paternity, the father may legally establish the parent / child relationship in the following ways:

  1. Acknowledge of Paternity by Affidavit (This is commonly done at the time of the child’s birth, but can be done later at a local registrar or Child Support Enforcement Agency. The mother’s consent is required, and the father is foregoing the option to have DNA testing.)  (click here for Acknolwedgement of Paternity Affidavit http://www.odjfs.state.oh.us/forms/file.asp?id=47082)
  2. Participate in DNA testing to determine if alleged father is the biological father of the child. DNA testing can be done through a private testing facility, if the parties agree, or may be Ordered by the local child support enforcement agency (CSEA), but only if the mother of the child files an application for services with the agency, the mother receives public assistance, or if the father (or other persons entitled by statute) requests that the agency establish Paternity. If the DNA results Ordered by the CSEA are positive for Paternity, Paternity will be established by administrative Order through the appropriate child support enforce agency, and a child support Order will likely be made.
  3. The alleged father can file an action in Court to establish Parentage and to Allocate Parental Rights and Responsibilities.  Also, in this instance, the Court can Order Paternity testing, and the mother’s consent is not required.

Ohio law provides that once Parentage has been established, a Court designating the residential parent and legal custodian of a child of an unmarried mother shall treat the mother and father as equals when making the custody designation. (Also see Child Custody section of this website).

It is important to note that establishment of Paternity does not automatically entitle the father to Parenting Time (Visitation) with the child. In addition, payment of Child Support does not legally entitle the father of a child to exercise Parenting Time with the child.  A Court must make an Order, formally Allocating Parental Rights and Responsibilities before the father of the child of an unmarried female has the legal right to Parenting Time with the child.

Under Ohio law, an unmarried female who gives birth to a child is automatically the sole residential parent and legal custodian of the child, unless or until a Court of competent jurisdiction issues an Order designating another person as the residential parent and legal custodian.  This means that until a Court legally “recognizes” the unmarried father as the child’s father, the father has no legally enforceable rights to Parenting Time (Visitation).  However, once Parentage is properly determined, a Court designating the residential parent and legal custodian of a child, is required to treat the mother and father as standing upon equal ground when adressing the issue of what is in the child’s “Best Interest’s”. (Also eee Child Custody Section of Website for additional information on Custody and “Best Interest’s” factors).

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