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Can an Unmarried Mother Take her Child and Leave Ohio?

Can an Unmarried Mother Take her Child and Leave Ohio?

Can an unmarried mother take her child and move out of Ohio without the consent of the baby’s father?  While this is a complex legal question, the simple answer begins with “yes, unless the father of the child asserts his rights and paternity under Ohio law and gets an order preventing the move.”  If this is the case, how does an unmarried father in Ohio protect his custody rights and the parenting privileges to ensure that he can remain present in the child’s life?

First, a little history.  When a child is born to a couple who is married, the State of Ohio assumes the husband to be the baby’s biological father.  When a mother is unmarried, there is a process to legally establish “paternity” – the legal process which identifies the father of the child – after which the father may be granted custody and parenting rights by an Ohio Court but until something happens in court, the mother is the sole legal parent of the child.

If both unmarried parents sign an “Acknowledgement of Paternity Affidavit” at the hospital, and it is properly filed with the appropriate agency, the State of Ohio may recognize a man as the father of a child.  The father’s name will be listed on the birth certificate.

Even with an Acknowledgement of Paternity, however, the father is still required to seek specific orders from an Ohio Court to establish custody or parenting time.  Without these Court orders an unmarried father may not be able to stop the unmarried mother of his child from taking the baby and moving away or even have parenting time with the child.

If the mother of the child is not cooperative, or if time has passed since the child’s birth, the process of establishing paternity may become a bit more complex.  There is a legal process to establish DNA proof of paternity, after which the father can request Court orders regarding child custody, visitation and support.

When can an unmarried mother take her child and leave Ohio?  At any point in time until the father asserts his legal rights through paternity.  The number of legal variables in these cases are numerous, but it is absolutely possible for an unmarried father to step forward, establish paternity and ask the court for legal custody, visitation and support rights.  If you are an unmarried father and have questions about a paternity related matter, we invite you to contact us or call 614-228-1968.