Parenting Rights of Unmarried Parents


The national marriage rate has declined by 60% over the last fifty years with 1 in 4 people thinking marriage is an outdated concept. However, as far as custody and parenting rights are concerned, beware and be knowledgeable of your rights if you choose to have children without matrimony.

In Ohio, a woman who has a child with an unmarried father has complete (100%) custodial rights which means a man who has a child outside of marriage, has no (0%) rights to the child. The father can only get rights by 1) filing a motion with the juvenile court in the state/county in which the mother resides OR 2) marrying his child’s mother.

A common misconception is that an unmarried father who is on the birth certificate has rights due to this document. An unmarried father is placed on the birth certificate after signing an affidavit of paternity making him the legal father of this child. However, the status of legal father does not by itself give him any rights to this child.

Also, an administrative order of child support does not give an unmarried father any rights to his child, but orders financial responsibilities only.

If a man decides to forgo marriage and have children, it is highly essential that he establishes his rights at the time of the child’s birth instead of waiting until a breakup to establish his rights. The process to establish parenting time rights in a contested case can take significant money and on average six months to establish rights.

If that is not scary enough, if a father has not established rights of his child, the mother can move anywhere without input from the father. The father can file a motion after the move, BUT Court will not likely require the child to be returned to the Mother’s prior residence.

If this situation sounds familiar or if your are expecting a child and are unmarried, contact Smith & Smith Law Office ASAP to establish your rights.