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How and why dads must establish paternity in Ohio

If you've ever wondered why many couples rush to get married before their child is born, then you'll be delighted to learn that there's a method behind the madness. While moms are automatically recognized as their child's bona fide parent of their Ohio child, that's not the case with fathers.

A putative father is a man presumed to be the father of a child who has not been put on the birth certificate. Ohio has a Putative Father Registry. Fathers can request to be put on it. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services requires an unmarried father to be placed on the registry no later than 30 days after the child is born. The registry will contact the father in the event the child is put up for adoption.

Fathers must be married to the child's mother at the time the child is born to be automatically considered as their son or daughter's bona fide dad. If the father isn't married to the mother, then they generally have to petition an Ohio judge for a legal right to their child before they can request visitation or custody of them.

Ohio fathers generally have a few options for establishing paternity over their son or daughter. They can do so with the voluntary consent of the mother by signing the appropriate affidavits at the hospital or after birth. A father can also establish their paternity by taking a deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) test and submitting those results to the court.

A Hamilton judge will generally enter a court order requiring mom and dad to come up with a visitation or custody schedule once a dad's paternity is established. The court may enter a child support order after this happens as well. If a mother interferes with a dad's right to visitation or custody once paternity is established, then they could be held in contempt of court.

If you have fathered a child out of wedlock, then you'll need to apprise yourself of how you establish paternity so that you can exercise your parental rights here in Ohio. An experienced attorney will have the necessary negotiation skills to help you communicate with your child's mother about paternity matters so that you two can come up with a visitation or custody agreement for your shared child.

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