What Is the First Step an Unmarried Man Must Take to Claim Paternity of a His Child(Ren) in Ohio?

Unmarried men in Ohio must take legal action to protect their status as the father of a child in order to ensure their legal right to parenting time or custody of their child(ren). In Ohio, if a couple is unmarried all of the legal rights regarding the child rest with the mother, even if the father is listed on the birth certificate and fills out paperwork at the hospital.

This simply means an unmarried mother can take a child and move out of state, or simply deny a father the right to see his child(ren). Until there is an order by an Ohio Court, the father has no rights.  What steps must an unmarried father take to protect his rights as a father under Ohio law?

The legal term in these cases is “paternity.” If you are an Ohio man and believe you may have impregnated a woman you are not married to there are many steps you should consider.  The first happens before the baby is even born.  If you do not want the baby to be placed for adoption at birth you should register with the Ohio Putative Father Registry.  “Putative” simply means you “may” be the father of a child. This must be completed at least 15 days prior to the birth of the child.

The registry is open to any potential father – even if he is under the age of 18. You can visit the registry online at For registration through the mail, get the proper form and mail it to:

The Ohio Putative Father Registry

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services

P.O. Box 183204

Columbus OH 43218-3204

To reach the Registry call (888) 313-3100

If you are the father of a child and are not married to the mother, and wish to protect your rights to spend time with your child or seek custody call to schedule an appointment at (614) 289-1227

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