In Ohio, when a child is born to a married couple consisting of a man and a woman, paternity is generally unquestioned. However, if you were not married to the mother of your child at the time of birth, you are not the legal father. You have no parental rights and cannot enjoy a positive relationship with your child.
Establishing paternity is often done when a mother seeks financial support from the biological father, but fathers may also choose to work with a family law attorney regarding this matter. If you would like to have a relationship with your kid and, in some cases, have visitation rights, it begins by proving you are the biological father of the child.
The benefits of establishing paternity
There are many benefits to clearly defining your role as the father of your child. In the eyes of the law, verbal agreements between parents are not binding, and no matter how good of a father you may be, it is always best to take the appropriate legal steps. Some of the benefits to establishing paternity include:
- Provides legal ties between you and your child
- Clearly establishes financial support for your children
- Possibly allows you to seek visitation
- Allows you the opportunity to have an active role in your child's education, religious upbringing and more
This effort is also beneficial for the child, laying the foundation for continued financial support, insurance benefits and death benefits from the father.
How do you establish paternity?
There are many ways to establish paternity if you are not married to the mother of your child. The first and simplest way is to have the father sign an acknowledgment of paternity affidavit at the hospital at the time of birth. If that is not possible, a father has other options in the future, including:
- Voluntary acknowledgement: Occurs when the father voluntarily signs a formal acknowledgement of paternity through the Child Support Enforcement Agency
- DNA testing: Occurs when there is uncertainty about paternity and can be requested by one of the presumed parents or the guardian of the child
- Court order: Can be requested by juvenile or domestic relations court
Establishing paternity has many benefits for both you and your child, but it is important to first discuss your rights and responsibilities with an experienced family law attorney. With the right legal support, you may be able to achieve your legal objectives and establish a strong relationship with your child.