When a child is born to parents who are not legally married at the time of the birth, it is necessary to legally establish the paternity of the putative or alleged father. Obtaining child support from the father might be a reason for the mother to establish paternity. Establishing paternity is also required if the putative father wants to seek custody or parenting time with the child.
There is a presumption created by section 3111.03 of the Ohio Revised Code that a man is the father of a child if he is married to the child’s mother at the time of the birth. The presumption also exists if a child is born within 300 days from the termination of the marriage by death, divorce, annulment, dissolution, or if the parents separate pursuant to a separation agreement.
If a couple enters into what they believe to be a legally recognized marriage that was solemnized prior to the birth of their child in compliance with the law where the ceremony took place, the subsequent declaration of the invalidity of the marriage in Ohio will not affect paternity of the child if one of the following circumstances apply:
Paternity can be established by court order through the Juvenile Court or through the Domestic Relations Court, by the mother and putative father executing an Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit, or through an administrative paternity order issued by a county child support enforcement agency after paternity is proven by genetic testing.
A court action to establish paternity can be instituted by the putative father, by the child or the child’s representative, by the child’s mother, or by a county child support enforcement agency of the county where the child resides. The right of a county child support enforcement agency to bring the proceeding is limited to those instances in which the child receives public assistance or in which the child’s mother or father is a recipient of public assistance on behalf of the child.
Evidence in a paternity case must be sufficient to support the claim by the person bringing the action that the putative father is, in fact, the father of the child. This is usually accomplished through genetic testing and testimony of witnesses.
Genetic testing uses samples of blood or saliva taken from the mother, the putative father and the child to establish the probability of paternity. Genetic testing results showing less than a 99 percent probability of paternity cannot be used to as the basis for an administrative paternity order. A case involving a probability of less than 99 percent can only be heard in the juvenile court.
An Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit is the easiest and quickest method by which to establish paternity. The affidavit must be signed by the mother and the putative father of the child. The affidavit is filed with the hospital in which the child is born, but it can also be filed with the health department or with a local child support enforcement agency.
Men living in Northeast Ohio might wish to take advantage of the Putative Father Registry maintained by the state of Ohio. This is a computerized database operated by the Department of Job and Family Services. A man who believes he might be the father of a child with a woman to whom he is not married can have his name and other identifying information entered into the database.
The advantage the database offers to a putative father is that it is checked when a child is placed for adoption. The alleged father will be notified and given the opportunity to obtain legal representation if the child is placed for adoption by the mother. Registration with the registry can take place prior to the birth of the child.
Until paternity is legally established, the putative father of a child born out of wedlock does not have any rights afforded to a parent. Once paternity is established, a father can petition the court for parenting time or custody. For the mother of a child, child support cannot be awarded until paternity is established by one of the methods recognized by state laws.
The rights and privileges afforded to a parent cannot be fully enjoyed until paternity of a child has been legally established. For information and representation on issues pertaining to paternity, contact Erb Legal LLC at (330) 446-3606. From our office, we serve clients in Brunswick, Wadsworth, North Canton, Akron, Ravenna, Wooster, Burbank, Rittman, and across Northeast Ohio.