The Right to Be an Ohio Parent

The parent and child relationship is a legal relationship that exists between a child and the child’s natural or adoptive parents. Ohio law confers and imposes important rights, privileges, duties, and obligations on this relationship. Parents have asked many reoccurring questions regarding the creation and termination of this relationship. How does this relationship begin? How long does this relationship last? How is this relationship terminated? The answers are codified in Ohio Revised Code Chapter 3111.

In order for a parent/child relationship to exist, the mother must establish maternity by proof of her having given birth the to the child as well as DNA testing. If the child is adopted, it is sufficient to show adoption records. The rules governing paternity are slightly different. The father may establish paternity by acknowledgment or genetic testing. However, there are circumstances in which paternity is presumed. One of these circumstances, and the most common, includes when a child is born while the father and mother are married or within 300 days after the marriage is terminated by death, annulment, divorce, dissolution, or after the man and the child’s mother separate pursuant to a separation agreement.

The parent/child relationship lasts as long as it is not rescinded or challenged. However, the rights, privileges, duties, and obligations that accompany this relationship are capable of being amended by the court system. This includes circumstances involving child support, custody, visitation, neglect, abuse, dependency, etc. Also, the previously mentioned rights, privileges, duties, and obligations may last past the child’s age of majority. An example of this is child support. Child support may continue if the child continuously attends an accredited high school on a full-time basis, the child is mentally or physically disabled and incapable of self-supporting, and the parents agree to support beyond age 18 in a separation agreement or decree.

Lastly, there are ways to terminate the parent/child relationship, but they are limited. Acknowledgement by the father may be rescinded by the person who signed it, but the Court must determine whether a parent/child relationship exists. Also, a person may bring an action to rescind the father’s acknowledgement, but only for fraud, duress, and material mistake of fact. Termination of maternity may only occur by a determination of the court. Any interested party may bring an action to determine the existence or nonexistence of a mother and child relationship. The court will decide, based on the evidence presented, who is the father and mother of the child.

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