Lately, it seems that I have had more and more of my male clients coming in to see me to discuss issues relating to paternity. There are so many myths out there about what needs to happen to establish paternity and the possible outcomes of failing to do so, that it never ceases to amaze me! Perhaps the most serious outcome that many people are unaware of is that a “putative” father can have his child adopted out to someone else without his consent if the appropriate action has not been taken.
In Ohio, a person is presumed to know that if he has had sexual relations with a woman and she becomes pregnant that the child may be adopted without the father’s consent once the child is more than a month old. As a way to counteract this result, the Ohio State legislature mandated the creation of the Ohio Putative Father Registry. The purpose of the Registry is that a person who believes that he may have fathered a child can now establish the legal right to be notified of any hearings where the mother either voluntarily or involuntarily gives up custody rights to the child. The “putative” father may register at any time during the pregnancy up until thirty (30) days after the birth of the child. After that point it is too late.
This Registry only applies to people who are unmarried and in situations where the father has not established paternity. If the father is married to the mother and a child is born, he is the legal father of the child absent some other Court determination. If an unwed person establishes paternity, then the “putative” father becomes the “legal father”. That father is then a necessary party to any proceedings involving custody or adoption of the child.
If paternity has yet to be established, the first step to protect your rights is to obtain a Putative Registry Form either online or by calling the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. This form will ask for your name, current address, and other personal information for both you and the mother. In the event that you do not have the entire mother’s information you should do your best to fill out what you can. Likewise, if the child has not yet been born, you should give an estimated date of birth based on when you believe the date of conception occurred. You must then sign and have the form notarized in the presence of a Notary Public. Once the form is completed, it must be mailed in to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, and be received by them no later than thirty (30) days after the birth of the child.
Once you have submitted the form, it is your responsibility to update the information anytime you move. Additionally, this is not a one-time deal. Placing your name on the Registry once will not cover you for other children. What this means is that if you have additional relationships with the same woman, or with other women, you must complete an additional form each time to properly be placed on the Registry. There is no cost to the person for filling out and completing the form.
For a link to the Ohio Putative Father Registry online registration document, please click here, or call 888-313-3100. If you want to obtain more technical information about the Registry, click here to read the Ohio Administrative Code section about it.
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