Cleveland Paternity Lawyers
Protecting the Rights of Individuals in Paternity Cases
Establishing paternity for a child enables both parents to have legal rights and support that child in a meaningful way. As a result, filing a paternity case can help mothers and prospective fathers contribute more actively to their child's life and ensure they receive the aid they need to thrive.
At Laubacher & Co., our family lawyers in Cleveland work with mothers and fathers in paternity cases to help ensure the best outcome for the child in the case.
How Do I Establish Paternity in Ohio?
For the child's natural mother, proof of birth is sufficient to establish the parent and child relationship. A man is presumed to be the legal and natural father of a child if he is married to the child’s mother at the time of birth or the child is born within three hundred days of termination of the marriage. Additionally, a potential father may voluntarily sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit.
However, the presumption of fatherhood 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 the child's paternity.
The easiest method to establish parentage is through the Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit. An Acknowledgement of Paternity Affidavit is a form that unmarried parents can use to establish a father's paternity. Once both parents sign the form, the man who signs will become legally-recognized as the child's biological father. The Acknowledgement of Paternity Affidavit also allows the father's name to be recorded on the child's birth certificate. If a different father has not previously been listed on the birth certificate, the parents can also change the child's last name.
You can obtain an Acknowledgement of Paternity Affidavit form through your local health department or a Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA). The CSEA for Cuyahoga County is located at 1640 Superior Drive, Cleveland, OH 44101.
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 child's biological father. 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, the only way to establish parentage is to petition the court for relief.
Do I Need To Establish Paternity To Seek Custody in a Divorce?
No, not if your children were born during your marriage. Under Ohio law, a husband is presumed to be the father of any children born to his wife during the couple's marriage. However, if your child was born before you got married and you have not yet formally established paternity, you may need to undergo DNA testing to seek custody in your divorce.
At Laubacher & Co., we'll work with you throughout your paternity case to defend your rights and advocate for an outcome that supports your long and short-term interests.