Establishing Paternity in Ohio

Under Ohio law, a parent and child relationship is one that exists between a child and the child's natural or adoptive parents. The relationship is one that confers or imposes certain rights, privileges, duties, and obligations on the parent. A parent and child relationship extends to all children and parents, regardless of the parents' marital status.

The primary purpose to establish a parent and child relationship is to determine paternity, which must exist before a court can enter a child support order. In addition to child support payments, there are other benefits, including:

  • access to medical insurance benefits and other legal entitlements;
  • providing the child with a sense of identity and family heritage;
  • strengthening the social and psychological bonds between a father and his child; and
  • completing the child's biological/medical history.

Establishing Parent and Child Relationship

For the child's natural mother, the parent and child relationship is necessarily established by proof of the mother having given birth to the child. A man is legally presumed to be the natural father of the child in certain circumstances. These include if the child's mother and the man are married to each other while the child is born or within 300 days of termination of the marriage. Also, a man can be presumed to be the natural father by signing a voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit.

The presumption, however, can be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence that includes the results of genetic testing. Genetic testing is a procedure in which tissue samples are taken from the mother, the alleged father and the child. The man can file an action for paternity determination based on recent genetic testing results showing a 0% probability of his paternity of the child.

The easiest method to establish parentage is through the Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit. This, however, is not always possible because the man may not be willing to cooperate. If a man is not legally presumed to be the natural father or does not sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit, it may be necessary to establish parentage through the state. To do this in Ohio, one must file a "parentage" action by requesting the county Child Support Enforcement Agency perform an administrative determination of paternity based on DNA testing. A hearing officer will issue an order establishing paternity if the genetic tests show a 99% or greater probability that the male is the biological father of the child. Genetic testing is paid for by the state and takes six to eight weeks to obtain the results.

If either party fails to participate in the administrative proceeding with the county Child Support Enforcement Agency, then the only way to establish parentage is to petition the courts for relief.

Contact a Cleveland Family Law Attorney

If you have questions about paternity establishment, a Cleveland family law attorney can help answer your questions. Laubacher & Co.'s family law attorneys have experience in a variety of family law issues, including child custody and support, divorce, adoption, and domestic violence. Contact a Cleveland family law attorney at Laubacher & Co. for a free

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