Fathers in Ohio may have heard of the term "paternity," but some may be unfamiliar with what, exactly, it is and why it is so important. Paternity is simply establishing that a man is a child's father. As has been discussed on previous posts here, paternity can be established in many ways, such as by signing a paternity affidavit or by submitting to a DNA test. Until paternity is established, a man does not have parental rights over a child, regardless of any agreements with the mother or the man's thoughts about being the father. Therefore, in order to secure fathers' rights, a man must ensure that he establishes paternity.
But why, exactly, is it important to obtain fathers' rights? From a custodial mother's point of view, establishing paternity is critical for seeking child support. But, for a father, the matter is more about the relationship with his child. Once paternity is established, a father can act on his rights to visitation. If he wants, a father can even seek custody of his child.
A father who actively seeks visitation with or custody of his child is seeking to have a positive impact on his child. Studies have shown that an actively engaged father can help protect a child's emotional health, leading to better social and educational performance. Additionally, once paternity has been established, a child acquires rights to inherit from the father and also obtains access to the father's medical history.
There is considerable significance to establishing paternity. Yet, acquiring fathers' rights is not always easy, as mothers often contest paternity. With this in mind, fathers in Ohio who wish to acquire and act on their fathers' rights may want to get more information so that they can approach the situation fully informed and prepared to make legal arguments in support of their position.
Source: FindLaw, "Legal Significance of Paternity," accessed on March 20, 2016