The law in Ohio regarding paternity of children is governed by Ohio Revised Code Chapter 3111. The code provides a variety of ways for an individual to establish paternity.  For the purpose of this web article our office will be focusing on the 4 main ways paternity is established.

1. Giving birth. Ohio Revised Code Section 3111.02(A), states the parent and child relationship between a child and the child’s natural mother may be established by proof of her having given birth to the child.

Many prospective female clients contact our office concerning custody issues of their children.  They are unaware, and are relieved to hear that in Ohio the birth mother has custody by virtue of giving birth, and that they are not required to file anything in court.

Although this works out well for the birth mother, the birth father is not in the same situation.  If a child is born to unmarried parents, the birth father has no rights to custody or visitation until he not only establishes paternity, but also asserts his rights, and has a court grant him the relief he is seeking. See the Custody Tab for more information.

2. Married Fathers of Children: Ohio Revised Code section 3111.03(A)(1)  states that if a man who is married to the child’s mother at the time of the birth or who was married to her within three hundred days after the marriage is terminated by death, annulment, divorce, or dissolution or after a man and the child’s mother separate pursuant to a separation agreement, they are presumed to be the child’s father.

Establishing paternity for men in this way raises problems for parties who have been separated for some time, but have never terminated their marriage.  If a women gives birth to a child from another man prior to terminating her marriage, her current husband is presumed to be the father of the child and the biological father has no rights until this situation is corrected, usually requiring Court action.

3. Signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity.  Paternity is Ohio can be established for a male by the parties signing an acknowledgment of paternity. The paternity affidavit is a simple, voluntary process. Unmarried couples frequently choose to sign the affidavit at the hospital or birthing center.  These places have the required forms and can assist couples in filing out and filing the paperwork with the Vital Statistics and the Central Paternity Registry .  If you are an unmarried male, signing or being listed on the birth certificate does not establish paternity or give you any rights to the child.

You can download a copy of an Acknowledgement of Paternity in PDF format by clicking here: Acknowledgment of Paternity

4.  Filing a Paternity Lawsuit.  In Ohio, a paternity lawsuit can be brought to court by either of the parents or by a government lawyer for the  Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA). The CSEA gets involved if the mother or child received financial assistance through the State of Ohio.   The CSEA will assist individuals, male or female,  in establishing paternity, or private counsel can be retained for the same purpose.

If you live in Cincinnati, Hamilton, Clermont or Warren County and you would like more information on this issue,  or you need assistance in filing a paternity action contact our office for a free confidential consultation.