Establishing Paternity in Cleveland, Ohio
Q: Do I need to establish paternity in order 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, it is possible that you will need to undergo DNA testing in order to seek custody in your divorce.
Q: What is an Acknowledgement 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. Completing an Acknowledgement of Paternity Affidavit also allows the father’s name to be recorded on the child’s birth certificate; and, as long as a different father has not previously been listed on the birth certificate, the parents can also change the child’s last name.
Q: How do I get an Acknowledgement of Paternity Affidavit form?
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. You can click here to find your local CSEA if you live outside of Cuyahoga County.
Q: My wife is pregnant. Should I wait until our child is born to file for divorce?
Under Ohio law, the presumption that a husband is the father of any child born to his wife extends 300 days after the couple’s marriage “is terminated by death, annulment, divorce, or dissolution or after the man and the child’s mother separate pursuant to a separation agreement.” As a result, you do not need to delay your divorce solely for purposes of establishing paternity of your unborn child.
Q: What type of test is used to establish paternity in Ohio?
In Ohio, paternity is established using a DNA test based upon a blood sample, skin swab, or mouth swab. Ohio law allows this testing to be performed by a local CSEA or an independent laboratory. However, in neither case does your test result alone establish legal paternity. In order to establish legal paternity, you must still go to court and have a judge issue a formal order.
Q: Why is it important to establish paternity?
For most parents, the primary reason to establish paternity is to affirm both parents’ legal and biological relationships with their child. The legal relationship establishes the right to seek custody or visitation and the obligation to provide financial support. However, paternity serves a number of other practical purposes as well. These include:
- Providing the child with access to health insurance and other benefits;
- Establishing the child’s inheritance rights; and,
- Determining the child’s medical history.
Learn more: Establishing Paternity in Ohio.
Q: What is a “putative father” in Ohio?
In Ohio, a putative father is a male who may be a child’s father but who has either (i) not married the child’s mother as of the date of birth, or (ii) not established paternity in court prior to the filing of an adoption petition regarding the child. Anyone who believes that they are a putative father can (and should) file for registration with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services’ Ohio Putative Father Registry (OPFR). Failure to register within 30 days of a child’s birth can result in your child being legally adopted without your knowledge or consent knowledge or consent. Learn more: The Basics Of Putative Father Law in Ohio.
Schedule a Free Paternity, Divorce, or Child Custody Consultation at Laubacher & Co.
If you live in the Cleveland area and have questions about paternity in Ohio, we encourage you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. To speak with an experienced family law attorney at Laubacher & Co. in confidence, please call (855) 522-5569 or request an appointment online today.