Questions about Custody & Paternity

Henry County Family Court

How do I file for custody?

You should contact an attorney to file a Complaint for the Allocation of Parental Rights and Responsibilities. If you cannot afford an attorney you can attend the Courtís Pro-Se Clinic to receive the proper paper work. To sign up for the clinic all 419-599-5951.

How do I get shared parenting or joint custody?

Because of the multitude of issues involved in shared parenting, it is best to contact an attorney to advise you on this process. In most cases, shared parenting is put in place by agreement of the parents.

What is the difference between custody and guardianship?

The terms are very similar by definition, but Family Court is only involved in "custody" issues for children. Guardianship may involve adults as well as children, and is usually considered by Probate Court. You may want to consult with an attorney for a more in-depth definition.

What rights does a parent have under joint custody?

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

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

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 those rights.

How does a father get visitation rights when the mother is denying visitation even though the father is paying support?

You should contact an attorney to file an Application to Determine Custody and/or in the Alternative an Application to Determine Visitation. If you cannot afford an attorney you can attend the Courtís Pro-Se Clinic to receive the proper paper work. To sign up for the clinic all 419-599-5951.

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

Contact an attorney to determine if you have legal grounds to terminate the other parentís visitation. If there are grounds, the attorney would file the appropriate motion. Also, 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. 

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

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

What can I do if I do not get my visitation that the Court ordered?

You should consider asking an attorney what options you 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.

How do I establish paternity?

Paternity may be established in a number of ways:

1. Both the mother and father may sign an affidavit of paternity and register it with the Central Paternity Registry.
2. An action may be initiated through the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA). Information and assistance can be obtained at The Henry County CSEA, 1809 Oakwood Ave, Napoleon, OH., 43545 PHONE (419) 592-4633

3. A paternity complaint may be filed in Family Court. This Court will not enter a finding of paternity until genetic tests confirm that a parent-child relationship exists.

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

A DNA (genetic) test is the best available scientific means to determine a parent/child relationship. Parties can use private services for testing. If a 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.


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

†Yes, every party has a right to counsel in every Court case. 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 indigent.

How do I get my name on the birth certificate?

Normally, this is 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 is required before the Bureau of Vital Statistics will make a change to the birth certificate. Forms for this are available in the Clerk's Office.

How can a child's last name be changed?

A child's last name can be changed by agreement in a CSEA administrative hearing. If a paternity adjudication is made in Family 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.

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

A father's rights and obligations toward a child born outside of marriage begin only when paternity is legally established.