4 Jan


In the State of Ohio if a child is born outside of wedlock custody is automatically given to the mother. 3109.042. The Father can obtain parenting rights by filing an application for custody with the Juvenile Court.

STEP ONE – INITIAL CONSULTATION – At the initial consultation we will review the situation and try to determine what is the best situation for the client and the child. We will decide whether we want to obtain full custody rights, a shared parenting plan, or merely obtain parenting time rights wpeugk4. We also need to know whether there is already a court order for custody and if so, then decide if a modification of custody is warranted. This is also an opportunity to ask any questions about the process. There is no fee for the initial consultation.

STEP TWO – SIGNING CONSULTATION – We will prepare an application for custody, a parenting affidavit, and if the other parent is in agreement a parenting plan and waiver of service. I will ask for the initial fee and court costs at this time. I will also need 1) birth certificate of child, 2) proof of parentage (child support order or acknowledgment of paternity), and either the social security number of the child or acknowledgment that you do not possess the social security number.

STEP THREE – CASE FILING – The case is filed to the juvenile court. The Court will attempt service on the other parent through certified mail. If the other parent does not pick up the service the court will inform me and I will inform the court to service by regular mail. As long as that is not returned service is perfected. Nothing can happen in the case until service is perfected.

STEP FOUR – MEDIATION – This step does not happen in every case, but it is common in Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court if there is not an emergency. The court will attempt to mediate a custody agreement through their mediation services. Both parents attend. Attorneys are not permitted to participate. The goal of the court is to try to obtain a shared parenting plan without the expense of going through the full litigation situation. While you must attend, you are not required to come to an agreement. If the parties do come to an agreement then the parenting plan is submitted to the court and become the final order. If the parties do not agree then the case will go before a magistrate or judge in the juvenile court.

STEP FIVE – PRETRIAL – The Court will hold one or more hearings to see if the parties, with counsel, can come to an agreement with regards to parenting time. The court may also address other issues that occur in the case. Typically, the judge or magistrate with talk with counsel and non-represent parents first and then bring in the represented parents. In disputed cases the court will typically assign a guardian ad litem to give an opinion what the best interest of the child are.

STEP SIX- DISCOVERY – While the pretrials are happening their will also be opportunity for discovery. This is the chance for the parties to gather information from the other side so that they can prepare their case. Formal discovery is done through interrogatories, depositions, admissions, and document requests. Another avenue in discovery is known as a subpoena. There can also be informal agreements to produce documents. If a party refuses to provide information that the law allows, then a party can ask for court intervention to obtain the information.

STEP SEVEN – TRIAL – If there is no agreement that comes out of the pretrial then the court will set up a trial date. At the trial we will be permitted to subpoena witnesses to testify on your behalf. You will also have an opportunity to testify. The attorney will also have an opportunity to cross-examine witnesses. All custody trials are bench trials and the magistrate or judge gets to decide the case. A guardian ad litem will also issue a report with a recommendation of custody.

STEP EIGHT – MAGISTRATE OPINION/ORDER/APPEAL – If the trial was heard by a magistrate, the magistrate will issue an opinion. If you do not agree with the opinion you can object and have a review hearing with the judge. When the objection period has passed (in most cases 14 days) the judge will adopt the magistrate opinion as an order. If the trial was heard by a judge, then an order will be issued. A party has the ability to appeal the decision within 30 days after the ruling on objects (in case of a magistrate heard case) or the order of the judge. This would begin the appeal’s process.

If there are any questions do not hesitate to contact us.