Ohio child custody rights of unmarried parents are decided in Ohio paternity parentage cases, which includes requests for legal custody, parenting time and/or shared parenting. In Ohio, an unmarried mother has sole legal custody
of a child born outside of marriage. The father has no legal rights to the child until he requests the court to issue orders establishing a father-child relationship and an order for parenting time.
How is child custody decided in Ohio? These issues are decided by domestic relations and juvenile courts in Ohio. For disputes between parents, the domestic relations courts in Medina County, Summit County and Cuyahoga County hear such cases. In Wayne County, Ohio, the domestic relations court hears child custody cases in divorce and post-divorce decree cases. The Wayne County juvenile court hears child custody cases between unmarried parents. For purposes of this article, we will refer to all these courts as the Ohio child custody court.
The Ohio child custody court must decide between sole custody to one parent and shared parenting with both parents. The parent who is awarded sole custody becomes the child’s legal custodian and will make decisions about non-emergency medical care, education, religion, discipline and extra-curricular activities. The sole legal custodian must let the non-custodial parent know about such matters but will make the final decisions.
The United States Supreme Court and the Ohio Supreme Court have repeatedly said that the “right of parents to raise their children has been deemed basic and essential, protected by due process of law.” While a parent does not lose this right when the other parent is awarded custody of the children, this right does not help much when the noncustodial parent tries to regain custody of his or her children.
also creates a hurdle, stating that modification of custody will not occur unless a change in circumstances of the child or child’s residential parent occurs. If there was a shared parenting decree, the change in circumstances can occur with either parent. The modification must also be in the best interests of the child, and: (1) the residential parent agrees to a change; (2) the child, with consent of the residential parent or of both parents in shared parenting, has been integrated into the family of the person seeking to become the residential parent; or (3) the harm likely to be caused by a change of environment is outweighed by the advantages of the change of environment to the child.
I often get asked what parental rights parents have when they are married, unmarried or have a child support order in place. These are the common questions and the answers to those questions.
What is a putative father?
A putative father is a man who may be a child’s biological father but who is not married to the child’s mother at the time the child is born or who has not established paternity of the child in a court or administrative hearing.
Does a putative father have parental rights?