If you have a baby in Ohio and you are not married, you may wonder what happens with custody. Knowing who has legal custody and rights to the baby is essential, especially if you are the father. Under the Ohio Revised Code, an unmarried mother automatically retains full and sole custody of a child. This could mean issues for you if you are the father.

The law says the mother has complete control over making decisions for the child. This includes any visitation or interaction with the father. It takes a court order for you as the father to get any legal rights to your child. It is important that you establish these rights as soon as possible even if you and the mother are in a relationship and on good terms because the minute something goes wrong in the relationship, you could lose access to your child and have no rights. The court may change the parental designation. Typically, this requires either proof of paternity or an agreement with the mother to award you paternal rights.

There is an exception to the mother gaining full custody of the child automatically. If she has a conviction for sexual battery or rape and the child is a result of that incident, then she will not be given legal custody of the child. You should keep in mind that the court will need to establish your paternity to award you custody. This information is for educational use only. It is not legal advice.