Roughly 40% of children in the United States are born out of wedlock. This means that many fathers in Ohio and throughout the country are not married to their son or daughter's mother. However, unwed fathers generally do have rights to their children as long as they are deemed to be fit to have them. To obtain those rights, a man first needs to establish paternity. This can be done by adding his name to the baby's birth certificate with the mother's permission.
It may also be possible to fill out a form at the hospital acknowledging that he is the father. If there is any doubt as to who the father of a baby is, a court may order a paternity test. Once paternity has been established, a father may be granted equal custody rights. This is generally the case if he lives with the child's mother and plans to raise the child with her.
In the event that a child's parents live apart from each other, it may become necessary to formally file for custody. The parents themselves can create a custom parenting plan that allows them to equally share the responsibility of raising a child. In most cases, courts will approve of these plans assuming that they are created with the child's interests in mind.
Fathers generally have the same chance of obtaining custody or visitation rights whether they are married or not. A judge will look at a father's ability to provide a safe and nurturing environment for the child with little regard for his marital status. Parents can help their own cause by getting a full-time job, moving to a new home closer to where a child lives' or seeking help for a substance abuse or mental health problem.