When you establish legal paternity, you can access your legal rights as an unmarried father in Ohio. You can ask the court for visitation with or custody of your child as well as the right to participate in important decisions for the child. 

Learn how to file for legal paternity in Ohio and the benefits of doing so. 

Paternity by affidavit

If you and the child’s mother agree that you are the father, you can both sign Ohio’s Acknowledgement of Paternity affidavit in front of a witness. Many unmarried parents do so at the hospital after the child’s birth. You can also visit the local Registrar’s Office anytime before the child turns 18. After you file the affidavit with the state, Ohio will add your name to the birth certificate. 

Paternity lawsuits

Do not sign the affidavit of paternity if you are not sure whether you have biologically fathered the child. Instead, you should have a DNA test before taking this step. Either parent or the Child Support Enforcement Agency can also ask the state to determine paternity by filing a court case, and Ohio will order a paternity test. If you are the father, the state will establish a legal paternity order. 

Whether you sign the affidavit or file a lawsuit to establish paternity, you can subsequently file a request for custody and visitation with your child. In addition, the court will create a child support order that indicates how you and the child’s mother will work together to provide financial support. Your child will also be able to access health, Social Security and veteran benefits you may have.