Children in a relationship present unique challenges in any divorce. Likewise children of unwed parties create their own unique circumstances.
Unwed Parties & Children
In Ohio an unwed mother is deemed the residential parent and legal custodian of her biological children. The biological father has no parenting rights until such time as he goes to court to seek an allocation of such rights. Likewise, a mother cannot secure payment of child support until paternity is established.
Paternity can be established in several ways. The mother & biological father can sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity at the time of the child's birth or if paternity is disputed, genetic testing can be performed to establish paternity.
Allocation of Parental Rights
The court may allocate the parental rights and responsibilities for the care of the children primarily to one of the parents, designating that parent as the "residential parent" and the legal custodian of the child, and divide between the parents the other rights and responsibilities for the care of the children, including, but not limited to, the responsibility to provide support for the children and the right of the parent who is not the residential parent to have continuing contact with the children.
Alternatively, the court may allocate the parental rights and responsibilities for the care of the children to both parents and issue a "shared parenting" order. This type of order requires the parents to share all or some of the physical and legal care of the children in accordance with an approved plan for shared parenting. In a shared parenting situation, both parents, regardless of where the child is physically located or with whom the child is residing at a particular point in time, are considered the "residential parent," the "residential parent and legal custodian," or the "custodial parent" of the child.
While courts have a preference for shared parenting, there are several factors the court uses to determine if it is in the childrens best interest to adopt a shared parenting plan. We can assist you in determining if such a plan is appropriate in your case.
Child support is the financial contribution one parent makes to another for the support of their children. Child support may be ordered when parents are separated, and/or in divorce, dissolution of marriage, annulment, paternity and legal separation cases. It is ordered by the court or the child support agency, or established by agreement of the parties and approved by the court, in an amount that should allow the child to enjoy approximately the same standard of living he or she would have enjoyed had the parents remained (or had ever) married. Ohio utilizes a guideline formula to establish child support.
A court cannot change custody from one parent to the other parent unless certain requirements are met. The court must review certain facts in deciding whether to change custody. The court must decide if there has been a “change of circumstances” of the child or the custodial parent (or either parent in shared parenting plan). The change of circumstance must have occurred after the last custody decree. We can review your particular situation and help evaluate whether a request to change custody is appropriate.