unmarried parents child custody

Navigating Child Custody in Ohio: Unmarried Parents’ Guide


Child custody matters can be intricate, particularly for unmarried parents in Ohio. When parents are not married, determining custody involves specific legal considerations that differ from those in marital dissolutions. Understanding the legal landscape and the rights of unmarried parents is crucial for establishing a stable and supportive environment for the child.


Parental Rights for Unmarried Parents

In Ohio, both parents have legal rights to their children when they are unmarried. However, establishing these rights often requires specific legal actions to ensure that both parents are recognized as legal parents.


Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity

To establish legal parentage for the non-biological parent, Ohio provides the option of a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity. This document, typically signed at the time of the child’s birth or later, legally recognizes the non-biological parent as the child’s legal parent.


Paternity Testing

In cases where paternity is in question, either parent may request a paternity test. Once paternity is confirmed, the legal rights and responsibilities of both parents can be determined.


Custody Determination

When unmarried parents separate, child custody is determined based on the best interests of the child. The court considers factors such as each parent’s ability to provide a stable home, the child’s relationship with each parent, and the child’s adjustment to their current living situation.


Establishing Parenting Time

Parents who are not married can work together to create a parenting plan that outlines the time each parent spends with the child. If an agreement cannot be reached, the court will intervene to establish a parenting schedule that aligns with the child’s best interests.


Child Support Obligations

Just like in cases of divorce, unmarried parents may be subject to child support orders. Ohio’s child support guidelines determine the financial contributions of each parent based on factors such as income and parenting time.


Modifying Custody and Support Orders

Either parent can petition the court to modify custody or support orders if circumstances change. This may include changes in income, the child’s needs, or adjustments to parenting time.


Navigating Legal Assistance

Seeking legal counsel is advisable for unmarried parents navigating custody matters. An experienced family law attorney can guide parents through the legal processes, ensuring their rights are protected and helping to negotiate or litigate custody arrangements.


Co-Parenting Agreements

Unmarried parents can benefit from creating a co-parenting agreement that outlines the rights and responsibilities of each parent. This document can address issues such as decision-making authority, parenting time, and communication between parents.


Legal Recognition for Same-Sex Parents

Unmarried same-sex parents face additional considerations, especially if the child was born through assisted reproductive technologies. Ensuring legal recognition for both parents may involve adopting the child or pursuing legal avenues to establish parentage.


For unmarried parents in Ohio, the path to establishing child custody arrangements involves specific legal steps to ensure the rights and well-being of both parents and the child. From voluntarily acknowledging paternity to navigating custody and support orders, seeking legal guidance is pivotal in navigating the complexities of family law.

By understanding their legal rights and responsibilities, parents can contribute to creating a stable and supportive environment for their child’s growth and development. Contact Mishak Law today to see about your rights and start your child custody case.