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A Guide to Child Custody When a Couple Is Not Married August 29, 2018

Granville, Licking
A Guide to Child Custody When a Couple Is Not Married, Granville, Ohio

When you have never been married to your child’s other parent, what are your child custody rights? Ohio family law is clear about parental rights and responsibilities in such a situation. The information below may help unmarried parents understand what they can expect and what is expected of them regarding these parent-child relationships.

Ohio Child Custody Laws for Unmarried Parents

1. Unmarried Mothers’ Rights

child custodyWhen a child is born to an unmarried mother, the mother has full and sole legal and physical custody of her child automatically. The mother does not have to do anything to gain that status, and she retains it unless a court signs an order that says something otherwise. Generally, when a mother needs to prove custody, showing the child’s birth certificate is enough. 

2. Unmarried Fathers’ Rights

If a man fathers a child but does not marry the mother, he has no legal right to custody or visitation. He must establish paternity to exercise rights as the child’s father. To establish voluntarily he is the child’s father, he can sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity. It can be signed at the hospital when the child is born, at the local health department, or the county Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA). As an alternative, a father can establish paternity and obtain parental rights by filing a complaint in Juvenile Court.

3. Working Out Parenting Plans

Unmarried parents can cooperate and work together or through lawyers to develop Agreed Parenting Plans. The plan would include child custody rights, visitation schedules, child support amounts and payment schedules. Family law attorneys help parents make plans, prepare the documents, and submit them to the court for approval.


Unmarried parents seeking answers to questions about child custody can turn to the family law attorneys at Vernau Law in Granville, OH, for advice and representation. Applying more than 25 years of experience to each situation, attorney Adam Vernau and his legal team offer skilled and compassionate services to clients throughout Ohio’s Franklin, Knox, Licking, and Muskingum counties. When you want individualized attention and effective advocacy, call (740) 587-2637 to schedule a confidential consultation. For more information, visit their website now.

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