Know the Laws: Ohio
UPDATED September 15, 2016
This page includes information about custody that is specific to this state. There is also a page for general information that you may find helpful.
The law says that when an unmarried woman gives birth to a child, she is the sole residential parent and legal custodian of the child until a court of issues an order to change that. However, if either parent files for custody, the judge must treat the mother and father equally when deciding who gets custody.*
* Ohio Rev. Code § 3109.042(A)
A judge will make a decision about parental rights and responsibilities (custody) based on what s/he thinks is in your child’s best interest. The judge will look at any factor that s/he thinks is important to make this decision.
According to Ohio law, when determining what is in the best interest of the child, the judge will look at the following factors:
Note: The judge must not give preference to a parent because of that parent’s financial status when deciding parental rights and responsibilities.**
* Ohio Rev. Code § 3109.04(F)(1)
** Ohio Rev. Code § 3109.04(F)(3)
When deciding if shared parenting is in the best interest of the child, the judge will consider all of the factors mentioned in the question above plus the following factors:
The court may also consider other relevant factors when deciding if shared parenting is appropriate. To read more about these factors, you can see the law on our Statutes page here.
* Ohio Rev. Code § 3109.04(F)(2)
Possibly, yes. The judge must take into consideration whether the parent has a history of (or the potential to commit) domestic violence, child abuse and parental kidnapping when making a parental rights and responsibility (custody) decision. The judge will also take into consideration if one of the parents previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to domestic violence, a sexual offense, or any criminal offense involving any act that resulted in a child being an abused child or a neglected child or any crime that resulted in physical harm against someone who is a member of the family or household involved in the custody case.*
However, there are many other factors that s/he will consider as well. See How will a judge make a decision about parental rights and responsibilities (custody)? Therefore, the fact that a parent committed domestic violence does not necessarily mean that s/he will be denied custody.
It is recommended that you seek legal advice from a lawyer to assist you in any custody case, especially one involving domestic violence issues. For information on how to find a lawyer see our OH Finding a Lawyer page.
* Ohio Rev. Code § 3109.04(F)(1) & (F)(2)(c)
Yes. If the offender was criminally convicted of (or pleaded guilty to) an act of rape or sexual battery that resulted in your child being conceived, you can bring a case in court to ask the judge to issue an order declaring that the offender is "the parent of a child conceived as a result of rape or sexual battery."* Once this is established, a judge cannot issue an order granting parental rights to the offender. If an order granting parental rights was already issued, the judge must terminate (end) the order as soon as the court receives notice of the judge's order in the court action that you filed.** Note: Termination of any parental rights order does not affect any child support payments that were already legally owed to you by that parent.*** Furthermore, any relatives of the offender can only be granted any custody/visitation rights to which you consent.****
* Ohio Rev. Code § 3109.501
** Ohio Rev. Code § 3109.504
*** See Ohio Rev. Code § 3109.507(B)
**** Ohio Rev. Code § 3109.506
Yes, it is possible for a grandparent or other relative to file for visitation rights at the following times in the child's life:
The Ohio State Bar Association has information on how a child's wishes are considered in a custody case as well as information about parenting plans in divorce and custody cases and information on sharing parental responsibility after separation. (Please note that WomensLaw is not affiliated with the above organization and cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information on that site.)