This blog is devoted to what steps must be taken by unwed fathers in Ohio so that they can officially and legally be determined as the father of their child(ren), and also receive orders regarding parenting time or custody.
Unfortunately, many fathers do not realize that, even though they have been involved in the child’s life, they actually have NO legal rights!
The law: If the mother is unmarried, at the time of the child’s birth, she automatically has legal custody of the child. All custody and parenting time issues must be addressed by the courts.
The bottom line: Until there is a court order, the father has no legal rights!
What you should do to prevent your child from being adopted out at
NOTE: You have to register at least 15 days before the child’s birth (or 15 days after the birth of the child) or the child could be legally adopted without your knowledge or consent. You can register your name for each child you may be the father of and this does also include unborn children.
Register within the time limit set forth above, if you may be the father. Any potential father can register whether he is over or even under the age of 18. For online registration, go to the following: https://pfrpub.odjfs.state.oh.us/pfrweb/home.aspx. For registration through the mail, get the proper form and mail it
The Ohio Putative Father Registry
Ohio Department of Job and Family Services
P.O. Box 183204
Columbus OH 43218-3204
To reach the Registry call 888.313.3100. If you move or your phone number changes, you must update your contact information.
Aside from protecting your child from adoption, there are other issues regarding “paternity” or your legal status.
What if a child has been born, and you are on the birth certificate as the father? Isn’t that enough?
Many men believe that signing the birth certificate when the child is born is sufficient to establish legal rights as the father, etc. This is NOT true.
The definition of paternity: Paternity is, “the legal determination of the natural father of a child.” Note the word “legal.” If the parents are not married to each other, at the time of the birth of the child, the child does not have a legal father. The parents need to establish paternity.
Paternity can be established in the following ways:
1. Voluntary acknowledgment (
2. Genetic testing. The mother, potential father or even the child’s guardian may request genetic testing, and that will be done so long as there is not already a final determination of paternity, there is still uncertainty as to the parentage of the child, or if paternity is contested. The CSEA will order parties to cooperate with genetic testing and will issue orders based on the results of any genetic test. Test results indicate that it is at least 99% probable that the person tested is the father. If the tested person is proven to be the father, the CSEA will request an updated birth certificate for the child.
Once you have established paternity, you may then petition the court for your parental rights to gain parenting time or custody, and to get court orders regarding other important issues such as support and the right to claim the child as a dependent, etc. for tax purposes.
Benefits from paternity
Establish paternity either through an agreed affidavit of paternity or genetic testing.
Get court orders regarding your paternity, and your rights and obligations in relation to the child, including but not limited to custody, support, health insurance provision, sharing of uncovered health care bills of the child, and the ability to utilize dependency exemptions.