What Are Mother's Rights in Ohio?

What Are Mother's Rights in Ohio?
December 29, 2022

The bond between a mother and child is like no other. If anything or anyone threatens to break or disrupt that bond, and you are that mother, it is understandable that you could be feeling stressed, scared, and overwhelmed. You could be wondering what your rights as a mother entail, especially if you are unmarried or going through a divorce

At the Law Offices Of Cara L. Santosuosso, LLC we understand your feelings, and are here to help. Your child’s welfare and your rights are top priority for our experienced team of child custody attorneys. 

Your Rights as A Mother

We have already delved into a father’s parental rights in Ohio, now we turn to the rights of a mother. The bond you have with your child(ren) is vital to their healthy development and growth, and deserves protection. You may have heard that traditionally, courts favor mothers. Ohio custody laws–like all state laws–do not favor one gender of parent over another. Instead, they opt for what is in the best interest of the child. In some cases, that does mean living with their mother. 

It is important to know that whatever your current relationship is with your child’s father–not married, divorced, or legally separated–you have the right to seek legal custody of your child. If you are married to your child’s father,  you both naturally and legally share equal custody rights.  During a divorce, the court can allocate parenting time, and impose obligations for child support, among other orders regarding your child.

If your child was born outside of marriage, Ohio Law recognizes only the mother as that child’s legal custodian unless or until a court determines otherwise. After paternity has been legally established, parenting time and child support for your child’s father may also enter the picture.

Various Forms of Child Custody in Ohio

Every mother who is concerned about custody laws in Ohio will want to understand how courts allocate parental rights and responsibilities. Here is a quick breakdown of terms:

  • Legal Custody: the right to make key decisions about your child’s life, including on topics such as schooling, religion, medical care, and other activities. 
  • Shared Parenting: Ohio uses this term for what many other states refer to as "joint custody." In a shared parenting or joint custody arrangement, both parents work together to make the major decisions about raising a child
  • Parenting Time: determines where your child lives for the majority of the year; this can also be referred to as a “visitation” or “companionship” schedule

Shared Parenting can have varying meanings in each case, but most often it means that legal responsibility for the child is awarded jointly or shared between parents. This means that both mother and father retain rights regarding important decisions in the child’s life. However, if the parents live far apart, or if one parent is abusive, neglectful, or incapable of making sound decisions, then the court will often award sole legal custody to the parent deemed to be more responsible. If you are an unmarried mother at the time of your child’s birth, you are automatically the sole residential parent and full legal custodian, until the time that paternity is established. Unmarried mothers only need to provide a birth certificate to legally establish their custody.

In regards to parenting time, or “visitation,” courts generally try to allow for balanced time shared between the parents, as this is usually best for the child and helps them to form healthy relationships with their individual parents. If your child is with you the majority of the time and you are granted sole physical custody as the “custodial parent”, then your child’s father–the “noncustodial parent”–will likely still be awarded regular time with your child. Unless there is a risk of harm, this parenting time is part of the court’s standard procedure and can be important to your child’s development.

That said, if your child’s father lives far away or the two of you do not get along, then a shared parenting arrangement might not work well. In these cases, an experienced family lawyer can represent you and ensure that the best circumstance for your child is at the forefront during negotiations. The same is true if you want to move out of state but your child’s father has an objection. After the court is informed of the planned move, they will allow both sides to offer their position and then decide what is best for your child.

Regardless of what you and the court opt to do in any of the above scenarios, having a child custody attorney on your side is important. With experienced legal guidance at hand you can be sure that everyone’s rights are protected and preserved. This is especially true if you have reason to believe that your child’s father could try to deny you physical custody or attempt to take your child away from you. Child custody laws always focus on the child’s welfare, and so do the family lawyers at the Law Offices Of Cara L. Santosuosso, LLC.

Rights As A Mother: Child Support

If you were never married to your child’s father, but have gone through the process to establish paternity, then you have the right to seek child support. A family lawyer can help you to work with the court to issue an order requiring your child’s father to provide the financial support your child needs. This is a legal right, and should be taken advantage of if you are able to. Working with an experienced child custody attorney will ensure that your child receives the support they deserve. 

If you were married to your child’s father, then paternity is already established and a financial support case is a natural step. It could be that you already have a child support order issued from the court, but there have been significant changes in your child’s needs or in either parent’s financial situation. In that case, your family lawyer could submit a request for the court to modify the order to better fit current circumstances. If your child’s father is behind on payments or refuses to pay, a child custody attorney can file a motion for enforcement of the order. 

Work With An Experienced Family Lawyer

The courts are ready to implement Ohio custody laws for unmarried parents, but it will typically require some time and effort from you. At the Law Offices Of Cara L. Santosuosso, LLC we know that your bandwidth is limited, and we are here to help pick up the slack when your rights are threatened.

Whether you need legal assistance to determine parenting time, tackle child support issues, or are looking for a family lawyer for some other reason, we are here for you. We know from experience that every child custody case in Ohio is unique. So we get to know you and your concerns and then develop a plan to best address them while delivering the results you need.

Setting out on your own as a single parent can be a difficult road to travel. It helps when you have advocates by your side. Get in touch with our team today to learn more about our services or to schedule a confidential consultation with an experienced child custody attorney.