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Do mothers automatically get custody in Ohio?

Even though many people believe judges give preference to mothers during child custody disputes, Ohio courts are actually supposed to treat both divorced parents equally.

In fact, Ohio even has a statute that expressly states that when a husband and wife decide to live apart, or get divorced, they "shall stand upon an equality" when questions regarding child custody, parental rights and responsibilities come before the court. Therefore, there is no preference for mothers when allocating parental rights following a divorce. There is also no preference for a parent simply because of his or her financial status or condition.

What if the parents were not married?

There is another Ohio statute, however, that gives all custody rights to the mother if she is unmarried. But, this statute only applies until a court reviews the custody arrangement - meaning the father can still seek custody, although he may have some extra steps to take, particularly if paternity is in doubt.

However, once paternity is established and the father seeks legal or physical custody, the court is again required to treat both the mother and father equally when making custody determinations.

One thing to always keep in mind, though, is that child custody disputes are often complex and difficult to navigate. Indeed, while the law says mothers and father are to be treated equally, that does not mean they will always get equal custody - many other factors may come into play. Therefore, if you have questions about Ohio child custody laws, it is best to speak with an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible.

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