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Ohio Custody Laws for Unmarried Parents

In Ohio, the legal relationship between a parent and child extends equally to all parents and all children, regardless of the parents' marital status. An unmarried mother may establish her parent-child relationship by proving that she gave birth. An unmarried father may establish his parent-child relationship through an acknowledgement of paternity. An unmarried woman who gives birth to a child is automatically the sole "residential parent and legal custodian" of the child, unless and until a court orders otherwise. It's important to note that when parents are unmarried, a father doesn't have child custody rights until a court order establishes his rights.

Ohio Custody Laws for Unmarried Parents at a Glance

When you're conducting legal research to find answers to your law-related questions, it's important that you find and read the actual statute. However, it's also incredibly beneficial to read a summary of relevant laws in plain English because it can help you get a better understanding of the statutes. The chart below provides you with a summary of Ohio custody laws for unmarried parent, as well as links to relevant statutes.


Ohio Revised Code Title XXXI Section 3111.01, et seq. (Parentage)

Presumption of Paternity

There's a presumption that a man is the father of a child in any of the following circumstances:

  • He and the mother are married.
  • He and the mother were married and the child was born during the marriage or within 300 days after the marriage was terminated.
  • He and the mother attempted to marry each other before the child's birth and either (1) the marriage can only be declared invalid by a court and the child is born during the marriage or within 300 days of the end of the marriage; or (2) the attempted marriage is invalid without a court order and the child is born within 300 days after the couple stopped living together.
  • An acknowledgment of paternity has been filed as per Section 3111.23, but isn't final yet.
Evidence of Paternity

In order to establish paternity, and thereby his rights as a parent, a man can present any of the flowing evidence:

  • Evidence of sexual intercourse with the mother around the time of the child's conception;
  • An expert opinion relating to the probability of the man's paternity (based on the duration of the pregnancy);
  • Genetic test results showing the probability of the man's paternity;
  • Medical evidence relating to the man's paternity based on tests performed by experts; and/or
  • Any other evidence that's related to the issue of paternity.

Related Statute(s)

Ohio Revised Code Title XXXI

  • Section 3109.12 (Mother Unmarried - Parenting Time, Companionship or Visitation Rights)
  • Section 3127.01, et seq. (Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act)

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Ohio Custody Laws for Unmarried Parents: Related Resources

For more information and resources related to this topic, please visit the links below:

Need Help with Child Custody Issues in Ohio? Contact an Attorney

If you're an unmarried father who wants to establish your custody rights or you're an unmarried mother who wants to establish a visitation schedule for the child's father, it's best to consult with a local child custody lawyer who will be experienced in both the laws and procedures related to Ohio custody laws for unmarried parents.

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