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Hamilton County Juvenile Court Cincinnati, Ohio
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Frequently Asked Questions

Paternity, Custody, Companionship and Support

Q. What rights does a man have if he has not been found to be the child's father?

A. A father's rights and obligations toward a child born outside of marriage begin only when paternity is legally established. Paternity can be established in a number of ways.

Q. How do I establish paternity?

A. Paternity may be established in a number of ways:

1. Both the mother and father sign an affidavit of paternity and register it with the Central Paternity Registry.

2. Initiate an action through the Child Support Enforcement Agency. Information and assistance can be obtained at HCJFS / CSEA, 222 East Central Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45202, 513-946-1000 or www.hcjfs.hamilton-co.org.

3. File a paternity complaint in Juvenile Court.

Q. If I am alleged to be the father of a child, how can I make sure the child is mine?

A. A DNA test is the best available scientific means to determine a parent/child relationship. Parties can use private services for testing. If the Court has established paternity, you may file a motion in accordance with Ohio Civil Rule 60B (or Ohio Revised Code 3111.16, if it is more than two years after the Court established paternity) to request genetic testing.

Q. How do I get my name on the birth certificate?

A. This is normally done automatically at the time of birth when an acknowledgement of paternity is signed. A parent/child relationship will otherwise need to be established, either administratively or by Court order, and a certified copy of the order may be required before the Bureau of Vital Statistics can make a change to the birth certificate. Forms for this are available in the Clerk's Office.

Q. Do parties have a right to a lawyer in a paternity or support case?

A. Yes, all parties have a right to counsel in all Juvenile Court cases. The Prosecutor's Office represents the CSEA in paternity and child support cases. The Public Defender's Office will represent the person responsible for paying support, if he or she has been charged with contempt of Court and is eligible.

Q. If we get back together, what happens to the child support obligation?

A. If you get back together with the other parent, the child support order will continue until the Court terminates it. A motion and Court hearing are usually required.

Q. How do I get my support order modified, reduced or terminated?

A. Court orders may be changed by the issuance of another order or decision, which will be considered in a hearing in response to a motion.

Q. What happens if I don't pay support?

A. Failure to comply with an order of the Court could result in a finding of contempt and could involve financial penalties and/or incarceration.

Q. How do I get my license reinstated if non-payment of support is the reason it was suspended?

A. It would be best to ask the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) Child Support Technician to see what they require in order to release the license suspension. Consult an attorney or legal professional for advice and options.

Q. What is the difference between a bond and a purge?

A. A bond is a means to insure a defendant's appearance in Court. Failure to comply with the terms of the bond could result in the forfeiture of the bond and a warrant for the arrest of the defendant. A purge is a payment that is made to purge or exonerate a contempt finding.

Q. How do I file a petition for custody or companionship?

A. Juvenile Court will accept filings for custody and/or companionship orders. Packets for filing are available on the Juvenile Court website www.juvenile-court.org. Click General Information, and then Court Forms and Instructions.

Packets are also available in the Clerk's Office. The packets will contain the forms needed and some general instructions, along with a checklist of what is required by Rule. There is a filing fee required to be paid with any custody or companionship action filed, unless you can document your indigency.

Q. What determines in which county one should file custody and companionship actions?

A. There are always exceptions to every rule, but generally, one would file in the Court that issued a previous order or decision concerning custody or companionship. If there is no previous order, one would file in the county where the child has resided for the previous six months.

Q. What is the difference between custody and guardianship?

A. The terms are very similar by definition, but Juvenile Court is only involved in "custody" issues for children. Guardianship can be over an adult as well as a child, and is a term used more by Probate Court. You may want to consult with an attorney for a more in-depth definition.

Q. If one parent has legal custody, does the other parent have any rights?

A. Even if one parent has legal custody, the other parent still has parental rights. Those rights are set out in a Court order. A child has the right to a relationship with both parents unless a Court has specifically denied companionship.

Q. How do I terminate my parental rights or the rights of my child's other parent?

A. Parental rights are usually terminated when another person adopts the child or the Court has found that the child is abused, neglected or dependent. You may want to contact an attorney for more information.

Q. What can I do if I do not get my companionship that the Court ordered?

A. You should consider asking an attorney what options you may have. If you believe the other party is in contempt of the Court order, you may file a motion for a contempt finding. Filing fees will need to be addressed and a hearing will be scheduled to address the motion.

Q. Why is it necessary to notify an absent or unknown parent of a pending hearing or Court action when he or she has had no part in the child's life?

A. This is required by the Ohio Rules of Court, specifically, the Rules of Civil Procedure.

Q. What rights does a parent have under joint custody?

A. A parent's rights under joint custody are set out in a shared parenting order that is approved by the Court.

Q. How do I get shared parenting or joint custody?

A. Because of the multitude of issues involved in shared parenting, it is best to contact an attorney to advice you on this process.

Q. How can a child's last name be changed?

A. A child's last name can be changed by agreement in the CSEA administrative hearing, if both parents agree. If a paternity adjudication is made in Juvenile Court, you may request the Court to order the change at that time. You may also want to check with Probate Court to see if they may be of assistance. Probate Court, 230 East 9th Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202, 513-946-3600, www.probatect.org.

Q. What can I do if the other parent does not follow the Court order?

A. You can file a motion for contempt in the Hamilton County Juvenile Court Clerk's Office if the other parent does not follow the Court order.

Hamilton County Juvenile Court     •     800 Broadway     •     Cincinnati, Ohio 45202