Ohio – Paternity vs. Custody

But my name is on my child’s birth certificate, so what?

Ohio – Paternity vs. Custody 

But my name is on my child’s birth certificate, what do you mean I have no rights to see my kid?????  This is one of the most common questions we get asked here at Rodriguez & Porter, Ltd.  When asked this question, I first have to explain the difference in Ohio between “Paternity” and “Custody.”  Put quite simply, Paternity is a legal determination of who the Parents, the Father and Mother, of a child are.  Custody, on the other hand, is a legal determination of which parent has the right to make decisions on behalf of the child.  As you can see, custody cannot be determined without first determining who the parents are, i.e., determining Paternity.   

PATERNITY FOR MOTHERS — In Ohio, paternity for the Mother is always established at birth because the child physically came out of the Mother’s body, so there is no question of who the Mother of a child is.  This fact will be noted by the birth certificate containing Mother’s name as the Mother of the child.

PATERNITY FOR FATHER – 

MARRIED – When two parents are married in Ohio and a child is born, the Husband is presumed to be the Father, and paternity is established for that child.  The Birth Certificate will be issued with Husband’s name listed as Father and Wife’s name listed as Mother.  This is usually done at the hospital by the hospital personnel, so make sure you tell them that you are married, if you are legally married, to avoid birth certificate issues down the road.

UNMARRIED – When two parents are unmarried in Ohio and a child is born, the Father has three ways to establish Paternity:

1) Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit: By signing this affidavit, both parents agree that a man is the biological father of a child and choose to make him the legal father of the child.  This is usually for two parents who get along and agree that they created the child together.  

NOTE! – Signing this Affidavit and getting your name on the child’s birth certificate does not grant you any legal rights, it only establishes Paternity.  It does not grant you the right to visit with your child or make any legal decisions on his behalf.  If you have any questions about your rights and obligations, please contact our office to schedule a consultation PRIOR to signing this document.  

2) Administrative Order of Paternity: For unmarried parents that have not established paternity through another method and wish to get genetic testing, the Child Support Enforcement Agency can conduct the testing and issue an order of paternity if the man is indeed the biological father of the child and can order the Birth Certificate to be corrected to add the Father’s name.  If the mother lives in Ohio, please contact the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) in the mother’s county of residence. If the mother lives outside of Ohio, you may contact the CSEA in the father’s county of residence.

NOTE! – Obtaining a Paternity decision through genetic testing and/or Child Support DOES NOT grant you any legal rights, it only establishes Paternity and, in this case, most often will end up in a child support order being issued for you to pay child support through the Child Support Enforcement Agency.  You, most likely, will only receive an order to pay support, as the Child Support Enforcement Agency does not have the power to issue orders regarding custody and/or visitation.  

3) Court Order of Paternity: Paternity may be established through Juvenile Court and sometimes through Domestic Relations Court (as part of a divorce.)  If you and your child’s other parent do not agree on establishing Paternity, then we can petition the Court to order a DNA test and establish Paternity, if the DNA test results do in fact confirm Paternity.

NOTE!Through this option, we can usually consolidate two cases into one by asking the Court to establish Paternity and, if Paternity is established, to also make custody and/or visitation determinations and/or establish child support.

PATERNITY IS NOW ESTABLISHED – So not that Paternity is established, what happens?  First and foremost, you were not granted any custodial or visitation rights.  However, your name should have been added to the child’s birth certificate as the Father, and your children now have the ability to inherit through you (social security benefits, VA   Now that we know who the parents of the child are, we can ask the Court to establish these custodial and/or visitation rights.

Next week’s segment will move on to how we move forward to obtain custodial and/or visitation rights.

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