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Cincinnati Divorce Attorney

Unmarried Parents

Who has custody?

When a mother is not married, Ohio law gives her legal custody of the child. To obtain parenting rights, the father must file for paternity to establish himself as the father. Then, the father can seek custody, shared parenting, and/or parenting time. Filing for paternity also requires addressing the issue of child support.

What if the parents live together?

Even if the parents live together, the mother is still the custodial parent. This allows her to leave with the child at any time, with no legal duty to allow the father time with the child. However, the court does not look favorably on a mother who keeps the father from the child, unless there is an issue of danger to the child.

Custody and parenting time are determined under the same law as they are for married parents. For an extensive discussion of Child Support, see the Child Support Report.


How is paternity of a child established?

When a couple is married, children born during the marriage are presumed to be fathered by the husband. When a couple is unmarried, the father’s paternity must be established by the father completing an acknowledgment of paternity affidavit, or by court determination. If a man is alleged by the mother to be the father, but questions whether he is, he can request genetic testing.

Once paternity is established, what rights does the father have?

As an unmarried mother has custody by law in Ohio, a father must either reach an agreement with the mother for custody and parenting time or seek these rights through the juvenile court.

The law office of Cathy R. Cook represents clients throughout
Southwestern Ohio, including those in Cincinnati, Hamilton
County, Clermont County, and Warren County.

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