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Unmarried fathers can assert their rights to parenting time

The love you have for your children and the bond that you share with them exists independent of the relationship you have with the other parent. Even if you never marry the mother of your children, it is natural for you to want to have a relationship with the children. Unfortunately, a negative relationship with the other parent could mean that you have trouble securing parenting time with your kids.

Thankfully, the law in Ohio does not allow one parent to unilaterally control access to the children, regardless of the marital status of the parents at the time of conception or birth. An unmarried father has the right to shared custody or at least parenting time under the law in Ohio. He just has to establish himself as the father.

Are you on the birth certificate as the father?

If the mother listed you as the father on the birth certificate or has already informed the state of your paternity during her own attempt to seek any kind of state benefits or child support, that may make it easier for you to claim your role as the father.

Provided that the mother listed you on the birth certificate or has already acknowledged your paternity on government forms, chances are good that you will be able to ask the courts to allocate parental rights and responsibilities to you.

Your rights as a parent include the rights to share parenting time, as well as legal decision-making authority about your children. You should have a say in their medical decisions, educational decisions and even their religious upbringing.

Can you convince the mother to cooperate?

Sometimes, an unmarried mother of young children may think that the easiest thing for everyone is to just cut the father out of the family after a break-up. She might think that she is even helping you by saving you the stress and financial impact of child support obligations.

Even if the mom has been resistant in the past, all it might take to change the scenario is an earnest discussion about your desire to fulfill your parental obligations to your child(ren). Once she knows that you want to spend time with your child(ren) and even help with their financial upkeep, she may be more open to acknowledging your paternity and sharing custody with you.

The courts can help you prove paternity

If the mother of your child won't admit that you are the father and won't work with you to arrange for shared custody or visitation, then you will want to ask the family courts to assist you.

You can request a hearing through the courts to establish paternity. The courts can then order genetic testing to verify your relationship with the child. If the genetic test establishes paternity, you can then request a parenting plan that gives you shared custody or at least visitation.

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