Cleveland Family Law Attorneys

The Basics Of Putative Father Law in Ohio

Baby holding parent's hand‚Äč

You may have heard of the term “putative father” before, but may not know what it means. Well, there is no need to worry because this article will provide an overview of what a putative father is and how it may affect you. Under Ohio law, a “putative father” is:

  • a male who may be a child’s father, but is not married to the child’s mother on or before the date that the child is born; or
  • a male who has not established paternity of the child in a court proceeding before the filing of an adoption petition for the child.

If a male believes that he may be a putative father and wants to protect his parental rights, he must file a Putative Father Registration form.

Ohio Putative Father Registry

In Ohio, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services maintains a computerized database called the Ohio Putative Father Registry, which collects Putative Father Registration forms and lists putative fathers throughout the state. The registry “allows a male to register if he believes he may have fathered a child and wants to be notified if the child is placed for adoption.”

The purpose of a putative registry is generally considered two-fold: First, it allows a male to claim the paternity of his child and to be notified of any adoption proceedings. Otherwise, a child may be adopted without the father’s knowledge or consent. Second, it is credited with protecting and ensuring the stability of adoption proceedings.

As part of the process to determine whether a child may be legally adopted, the OPFR is routinely searched to identify possible putative fathers. If a putative father is located, the individual will be contacted. The putative father can commence proceedings to establish the paternity of a child. And once paternity is established, the father can petition a court for visitation rights.

Failure to register with the OPFR before or within 30 days of a child’s birth can result in a child being legally adopted without the putative father’s knowledge or consent. For this simple reason, is it imperative that any putative father timely registers with the OPFR to retain certain legal rights with respect to one’s child? If a putative father wants to protect his parental rights, he should contact an Ohio family attorney experienced in legal issues involving child custody and parental rights.

Possible Changes to Ohio Law for Putative Fathers

Legislation has been introduced in Ohio’s General Assembly that may bring changes to putative father law in Ohio. Under House Bill 307, the legislation would reduce the time within which a putative father must register with the putative father registry from 30 days to 15 days after the child’s birth. The legislation also proposes certain pre-birth adoption notifications be sent to each putative father.

The legislation, however, faces hurdles before it can become law. The House overwhelmingly passed the bill with a 77-14 vote. The bill, however, heads to the Senate for consideration and a vote. And then, the Governor would need to sign the bill into law.

Contact a Cleveland Family Law Attorney Experienced in Parental Rights

If you have questions regarding the legal rights of a putative father, a Cleveland putative father attorney can help you understand the process. The attorneys at Laubacher & Co. have extensive experience providing legal advice on a variety of family law issues, including parental rights and adoption issues. Contact a Cleveland family law attorney today for a free consultation.