Family Law : Paternity

What does paternity mean?

Paternity is the legal acknowledgment of the parental relationship between a man and a child.

What does one need to establish paternity?

Establishing the paternity of children is usually necessary to obtain child support for the children or to establish the father’s rights to seek and obtain child custody or visitation (parenting time).

How is paternity established?

Historically, a child’s paternity was hard to prove because of the limited genetic testing methods and the highly uncertain nature of testimony regarding the mother’s sexual relations. However, nowadays paternity can easily be proven by DNA testing if the child and possible father(s) are available for such genetic testing.

In Ohio, paternity may be established by filing a “parentage” action in juvenile court, by requesting the county Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) to do an administrative determination of paternity (based on DNA testing), or by the mother and biological father signing a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity affidavit. In addition, if a child is born during the mother’s marriage or within 300 days after termination of her marriage, the husband is legally presumed to be the father of the child.

May a paternity determination be set-aside?

Any legal presumption of paternity or earlier paternity determination (and any related child support order and arrearage) may sometimes be set aside.

What is required to set-aside a paternity determination?

A court may set-aside a paternity determination if the man files an action for relief from the paternity determination based on recent genetic testing (DNA) results showing a 0% probability of his paternity of the child.

May the biological father prevent the adoption of his child?

Men who believe they may be the biological father of a woman’s child and want to prevent an adoption of their child without their consent should file a paternity registration statement with Ohio’s Central Paternity Registry.

For more information on domestic violence visit the Ohio Domestic Violence Resource Center.

See also the Forms & Education tab in this section for more information.

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