In Ohio, the law states that an unmarried woman who gives birth to a child is that child’s legal custodian. By default, the mother has rights to the child until a court decides otherwise. If the mother of your child refuses to provide you with visitation or custody of your child, then you may have the ability to take legal action. It is a misconception that fathers do not have rights to children if the mother decides not to share custody.

Under Ohio law, as stated by the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati, the child’s mother can determine who has rights to the child, where the child receives medical attention, attends school and how often another person can visit the child. This is, of course, unless the father has a court order that states differently.

To receive visitation or custody, a father must establish paternity. If the mother agrees that he is the father, then often that is grounds to consider validate parentage. However, if the mother disputes it, the father may have to undergo a paternity test. After established paternity, the mother can voice concerns about a child’s health and safety in terms of visitation. If you do not have a relationship with the child yet, then you may have to deal with limited visitation.

To establish paternity, you and the mother can sign an affidavit, you can ask the CSEA to conduct a DNA test or you can file a complaint to the court to receive a DNA test.

This information is to help fathers who may seek legal rights to their children. It is not legal advice.