A father is one of the most important people in a child’s life, but questions can sometimes arise as to a father’s rights when the parents of a child are unmarried. Unmarried fathers can have custody rights in Ohio, but there are extra steps that must be taken before those rights are recognized. At the Comunale Law Office, our experienced family law attorneys are here to help you establish and exercise your rights to your child. To learn more, call or contact our office today.

Married and Unmarried Parental Rights

Married and unmarried parents can be treated differently under Ohio law. When a married heterosexual couple has a child, the husband is automatically presumed to be the father of the child. As such, the father automatically has physical and legal custody rights from the moment that the child is born. When an unmarried couple has a child, only the mother has physical and legal custody of the child at birth until paternity, also known as parentage, is established for the father.

Establishing Paternity

An unmarried father can establish paternity in two ways in order to establish custody rights with their child. If both parents agree on the parentage of the child, they can sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. This can be signed at the hospital after the birth or in the weeks following the birth of the child. If one parent does not agree on the paternity of the child, the parent wishing to establish parentage can get a court order for genetic testing. This test involves a buccal swab on the inside cheek and typically takes a few weeks to return results.

After paternity is established via an Acknowledgement of Paternity form or genetic testing, an unmarried father can get a court order establishing and enforcing their right to custody. It is important to note that simply establishing paternity is not enough. Use the services of a skilled Ohio family law attorney to receive the court order necessary for the next step in custody rights, which is a parenting plan.

Creating a Parenting Plan

After custody rights are established for an unmarried father through a court order, the next step is developing a parenting plan with the mother of the child. If the parents are in a relationship, this step may not be necessary. However, if the parents are not together, a parenting plan enforces a father’s custody rights and puts in writing all the rights and responsibilities of each parent. This includes physical and legal custody rights, visitation schedules, pick up and drop off times, and anything unique to your family situation like rules regarding extended family visits, when it is appropriate to introduce the child to others you are seeing romantically, how to handle vacations, and more.

Call or Contact Us Now

It is important to know that as an unmarried father, you can get custody rights to your child. To learn more, call or contact the knowledgeable Ohio lawyers at the Comunale Law Office today.