Ohio Father’s Rights Lawyer
Becoming a parent can be the most rewarding experience in a lifetime. As parents, fathers usually want to spend time with their children and play a significant role in their lives. Because parenting is so important to the human experience, parents have a legal right to spend time with and take responsibility for their children. However, exercising this right to parent children isn’t always as simple for fathers.
A co-parenting arrangement will likely have a long-term impact on you and your child’s life. If you are an unmarried father or are going through a divorce with your child’s mother, it is important for you to know how to exercise your rights. At Joslyn Law Firm, we have the experience needed to help you get the parenting time with your child that you deserve. We know that each case is unique and that every client has a different story, and we will tailor our advocacy to the needs of your situation.
Brian Joslyn and his Columbus Ohio team are well known in the industry. Mr. Joslyn has been selected as one of the best attorneys in the US according to Rue Ratings, and is a Top 100 Trial Attorney according to National Trial Lawyers Association. For more information about how Joslyn Law Firm can help you in your family law matter, call (888) USA-RIGHTS or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.
Our firm serves clients in Franklin, Pickaway, Delaware, Licking, Madison, Union, and Fairfield counties.
Ohio Fathers’ Rights Information Center
Difficulties For Unmarried Fathers
When parents are unmarried when their child is born, mothers and fathers are not treated equally. A big part of the reason is understandable, but the impact on fathers tends to make life more difficult for them. When a child is born, it’s rather obvious who the mother is. A birth usually occurs at a hospital or similar setting, with the mother surrounded by an entire hospital team and possibly family or friends. The act of giving birth and placing the mother and child’s names on the birth certificates is all the proof she needs to show that she is the mother of the child. Not to mention, the mother’s family and friends have had nine months to prepare for a birth, making it clearer that she is, in fact, the mother.
Ideally, children are born to a happy couple who support each other and want to work together to provide for their new child. When this doesn’t happen, or problems begin to arise, fathers have far greater obstacles to overcome to prove their parenthood. These obstacles begin to pop up when the relationship between the father and mother becomes strained, or there is a misunderstanding of their rights or the law.
If you have fathered a child and are experiencing difficulties with the mother, there is a decent chance those difficulties present themselves in one of these forms.
- You want to spend time with your child. You repeatedly ask to see your child, but the mother declines. She may even make threats, like taking away the child or taking you to court for child support or some other reason.
- Perhaps you and the child’s mother already have a court-ordered custody and parenting schedule, and she repeatedly refuses to follow the details.
- The mother uses the child as a bargaining piece for other relationship problems, like jealousy, anger, or decisions either of you has made since the child was born.
If any of the problems above seem familiar to you, it is time to consult an attorney to help ease your mind and advocate for your right to be a father to your child.
Fathers often face challenges regarding child custody, and our legal system sometimes seems biased against fathers in child custody cases. At our law offices, we protect father’s rights. When you consult with our law firm, we explain how child custody works, how to establish paternity, and other issues related to child custody cases and father’s rights that relate to your specific situation.
Why Do Fathers’ Rights Matter?
If you are a father facing difficulties with the mother, it is essential to understand how they impact your life and ability to parent. Simply stated, you or the mother believing that you are the father isn’t enough for the law to grant you legal rights to your child. If there isn’t legal documentation showing that you’re the father, you receive none of the rights, responsibilities, and incredible life-long benefits of having a child. Some of those rights and responsibilities include:
- Responsibility to provide financially for your child;
- Right to spend time with and raise your child;
- Right to make major life or day-to-day decisions; and
- Companionship and instilling your values.
Your child can also miss out on a relationship with you without legal documentation. For unmarried fathers, a mother can withhold the child from a father if there is no legal documentation showing that he is the father.
Thankfully, the law wants parents to be there for their children. The United States Supreme Court has said that parents have a fundamental right to care for and take responsibility for their children. For fathers, exercising this right can sometimes take a few extra steps.
State Of The Law For Fathers
Proving your legal right to your child is by no means an impossible task and greatly differs depending on your marital status to the mother when the child was born. Under certain circumstances, someone can be legally presumed to be the father. This presumption essentially means that, based on specific actions of you and the mother, you are legally the father unless there is a compelling reason that convinces a judge that you are not. Whether you are legally presumed to be the father or have to prove parenthood using a different method, this process is called “establishing paternity.”
Marriage To The Mother
Under Ohio law, a man is legally presumed to be the father of a child if he was married to the mother when the child was born. To help ensure that unborn children receive the same protections, the same law applies to children born within 300 days of marriage. This could be through divorce, a legal separation, or the father’s death. Paternity is established simply by being married to the mother. Neither parent needs to do anything else.
Affidavit of Acknowledgement For Unmarried Parents
If you and the child’s father are not married, it is still possible to become the legal father without hassle. If you accompany the mother to the hospital and you both agree that you’re the father, you can both sign and file an acknowledgment of paternity with the Child Support Enforcement Agency. This document is a notarized affidavit, making it a sworn statement in the eyes of the law. Like in marriage, the law presumes that the man who signed an affidavit acknowledging paternity is the child’s father. Better yet, the mother also signed the document agreeing that the man’s signature belongs to the child’s father. By signing, you agree to take on all the rights and responsibilities associated with parenthood.
For many couples, a signed affidavit is a wonderful, cost-effective solution to establishing parenthood. Parents are not obligated to sign the document at the hospital. This may be a good thing, given childbirth’s stressors and excitement. Signing legal documents may not be at the top of everyone’s minds. If you are a new father and you and the child’s mother are interested in establishing paternity through a signed affidavit, please call our office at (888) USA-RIGHTS to schedule your free consultation or contact us online.
When we have fathers come to us and ask about their rights and responsibilities, we thoroughly review every case’s details. Whether a father chooses to sign an affidavit is heavily dependent on those facts. Although it is best to consult with an attorney to fully understand your rights and responsibilities, here are some ideas to keep in mind before you sign anything.
- Hospital staff cannot provide legal advice and are very limited on what they can say regarding your rights and responsibilities towards the child.
- It is safer to avoid signing legal documents if you don’t know whether you are the father.
Still, it is always better to wait and consult a qualified family law attorney if you do not know whether you should sign an affidavit.
Genetic Testing Through The Child Support Enforcement Agency
Paternity cannot always be established by signing an affidavit. From a father’s perspective, he may refuse to sign the affidavit because he is unsure whether the child is his or the mother will not allow him to sign the paperwork.
If establishing paternity has become difficult, the father can file a petition with the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA). The father will participate in genetic testing. If the results are at least a 99% match, the agency will issue a paternity order naming the parents and outlining child support obligations. However, it usually does not establish parenting time or custody, so fathers can still struggle to get time with their children.
Fathers who obtain this type of order can have an easier time obtaining visitation in the future if the mother continues to withhold the child.
Despite the authority of the CSEA to issue orders and hold formal hearings on paternity actions, some mothers will still refuse to participate in the proceedings or follow an order. If this happens, the father’s final option is to request a court order establishing parentage. This procedure is often lengthy and will also require genetic testing. However, this method can allow fathers to obtain a more solid custody and parenting schedule.
How Does Divorce Impact Fathers’ Rights?
If you are considering getting a divorce, and you and your spouse share a child born during the marriage, the law requires courts to treat you and your spouse equally because you’re both the child’s legal parents. Equal treatment does not necessarily mean that custody will be joint or you will receive the same amount of time with your child upon divorce. However, the bottom line for fathers is that divorce does not require them to overcome the burden of establishing paternity.
Custody And Parenting Time For Fathers
If you are a father that has established paternity through one of the earlier described methods or you are considering divorce, understanding the basic laws surrounding custody and parenting time can help you obtain as much time with your child as possible.
In a custody and parenting time dispute, courts have the authority to grant sole custody to one parent or joint custody to both parents.
Legal custody includes having the decision-making power in your children’s lives. These decisions include medical care, schooling, where they live, religious upbringing, and legal decisions for the child. If one parent has legal custody, but both dispute medical procedures for the child, the parent with legal custody has the ultimate authority to make the medical decision. Religious upbringing can also be a highly contentious issue for parents. If a parent has sole legal custody and wants the child to be raised under a particular religion or church, that parent has the sole authority to make that decision.
In a custody dispute, Ohio courts are prone to treat parents equally and grant joint legal custody so that both parents can play major decision-making roles in their children’s lives. The court cannot favor one party over the other because of income, gender, or the reasons for a relationship ending. If parents share joint legal custody, both work together to make choices for their child’s upbringing. Ohio courts favor joint legal custody.
Physical Custody And Parenting Time
Physical custody includes the day-to-day care of raising children, such as providing meals, getting them to and from school, and where they live. If one parent has sole physical custody, that parent is called the “custodial” or “residential parent, ” and where they live is known as the child’s primary residence. Even if one parent has sole physical custody, it does not necessarily mean that the other parent receives no time with the child.
If parents share joint physical custody, both parents are considered residential parents, each with a primary residence for the child. If one parent has sole physical custody, courts can grant parenting time to the non-residential parent.
How Courts Determine Custody
Although judges must generally consider parents equally when making decisions, they ultimately make decisions based on the children’s best interests. To get joint custody, at least one of the parents must submit a shared parenting plan to the court that reflects the children’s best interests. If a plan is not in the children’s best interests, the court may then grant sole custody to one parent. It is important to remember, however, that judges greatly appreciate parents who can agree upon a schedule for their children.
When judges review parenting schedules or make custody decisions for parents and children, Ohio custody laws provide judges with the following “best interest factors” to consider:
- The parents’ wishes regarding child care;
- The child’s relationships and interactions with parents and other important persons in their lives;
- The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
- The mental and physical health of all individuals involved in the familial situation;
- Whether and which parent is more likely to honor and facilitate court-ordered parenting time;
- Whether either parent has missed child support payments or failed to repay them;
- Whether the parent or anyone in either parent’s household has a criminal conviction for certain sex offenses or child-related crimes, or physical harm to the other parent;
- If there is an existing parenting agreement, whether either parent has previously and willfully denied parenting time to the other parent; and
- Whether a parent plans to move out of state.
Children’s preferences can also be considered if the judge interviews the children.
Hiring An Award-Winning Attorney In Ohio
If you are a father and are not receiving the parenting time you deserve, the attorneys at Joslyn Law Firm are to help you exercise your rights. As an award-winning lawyer, lead attorney Brian Joslyn has the experience and skills to fight for you aggressively. Please call our office at (888) USA-RIGHTS to schedule your free consultation or contact us online.
We serve clients in Franklin, Pickaway, Delaware, Licking, Madison, Union, and Fairfield counties.
What Our Clients Say
Read this 5-star Google review below regarding a complex family law case in Columbus OH
“Very kind and caring attorneys and staff. Would refer to anyone in need of a family law attorney.”
By: Abby Farber
Rating: 5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Read more reviews on Google!
This page was last updated by Brian Joslyn