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  1. #1
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    Dec 2011
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    Default How Can an Unmarried Father With No Visitation Rights Gain Custody

    My question involves a child custody case from the State of: Ohio

    Essentially my question is what are the chances my husband and I can get custody of my stepdaughter. Background info is as follows, she is 9 years old, my husband has been in her life since day 1 pays child support ( not through courts they agreed to a fixed amount which we have found out is 80 more than what the county we live in would actually make him pay.) He has rearranged his work schedule to be off on the days he has visitation , shows up to all of her soccer games, extra curriculars etc. My husband never bothered going through the courts for formal visitation b/c he is on the birth certificate and for the most part she has never denied him visitation. We find out a month ago that there is is a possiblity that her husband is going to be transferred out of state ( approx 600 miles away) so we quickly hired an attorney to establish he is the father and an in state visitation schedule. Now we found out they are moving and our court date is not until a month after they move. My step-daugther is conflicted, I don't thinks she could honestly choose her Mom or Dad to live with but has made it clear she doesn't want to move. She will miss her two step-siblings and her sister . Mom and her Step-dad also have two kids since moving. Basically my husband is thinking of going for custody or at least let her reside here in Ohio and have visitation with Mom because all of her family is here ( extended relatives) and this is everything she has known. My step-daughters Mom seems to be rushing all this , she won't even let her finsih the school year out in OHio she is having her homeschooled which my husband and I 100% oppose but again we don't really have a say in the matter. Any insight is helpful,

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    Toledo, OH
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    16,307

    Default Re: How Can an Unmarried Father With No Visitation Rights Gain Custody

    At this point, all that can be done is to wait for the court date to establish formal visitation. And your husband should not expect to be granted full custody.

    I know it sounds all mature and reasonable to just work out visitation amongst yourselves and not pester the courts with it, but situations like these are exactly why it's recommended to get something formal in place early on.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    6

    Default Re: How Can an Unmarried Father With No Visitation Rights Gain Custody

    Agreed, and I warned him of this years ago. At this point we are wondering if it is even worth the money to try adn fight it.

  4. #4

    Default Re: How Can an Unmarried Father With No Visitation Rights Gain Custody

    no
    Quote Quoting jacks625
    View Post
    Essentially my question is what are the chances my husband and I can get custody of my stepdaughter.

    Your husband may have SOME chance. You have NO chance, since you are a legal stranger to the child.

    Background info is as follows, she is 9 years old, my husband has been in her life since day 1 pays child support ( not through courts they agreed to a fixed amount which we have found out is 80 more than what the county we live in would actually make him pay.)
    Please tell us that he's been very careful to document that the payments was for child support. Otherwise, he may have a rude awakening when mom seeks FORMAL child support and claims that all monies paid to date have been gifts. (Child support orders protect ALL sides.)


    My husband never bothered going through the courts for formal visitation b/c he is on the birth certificate and for the most part she has never denied him visitation. We find out a month ago that there is is a possiblity that her husband is going to be transferred out of state ( approx 600 miles away) so we quickly hired an attorney to establish he is the father and an in state visitation schedule. Now we found out they are moving and our court date is not until a month after they move.
    Again, this is why having orders in place protects everyone. He may not be able to get before the court until the move is completed, and since there are no currently standing orders that mom's move could potentially violate, this keeps the issue from being one of emergency. Dad REALLY should have gotten orders put in place many years ago. Now he's going to have an uphill battle, especially if mom succeeds in getting out before the court date. He needs to follow the advice of his attorney to the letter, and be setting aside additional funds, because once the case crosses state lines, it's going to get exponentially more expensive, and, he may also need to retain services of an attorney in mom's new state.

    I don't thinks she could honestly choose her Mom or Dad to live with but has made it clear she doesn't want to move
    Right. Ultimately, it'll be up to the judge. Every state has different "slants" on how they view moving with a child; for some, it is supposed that staying with the primary care giver is preferred, and that "blocking" a move would be dependent on the NCP proving the court's satisfaction that the move would eggregiously harm the child (a high mark to hit). For other states, the presumption is nearly the opposite; that the non-moving parent has the presumption that the child remain so as not to interfere with the parent/child relationship, and the burden to convince the court to bless the move rests with the moving parent how NOT moving would be potentially damaging to the child. Dogmatique, a frequent poster here, is much more familiar with OH courts than I am, so hang in there for her response as to which stance OH is likely to take.

    My step-daughters Mom seems to be rushing all this , she won't even let her finsih the school year out in OHio
    Mom probably rightfully is assuming that since there are no current court orders, she's free and clear to move, and is trying to get out BEFORE an order can be issued.

    she is having her homeschooled which my husband and I 100% oppose but again we don't really have a say in the matter.
    Your husband WOULD have had a say in the matter, WITH a custody/visitation agreement in place. As it is, no, he doesn't have any leverage until he GETS such an order. '

    Also. you'll want to be VERY careful with your use of "we". From a legal perspective, you don't exist in the case - this is all about mom and dad, and only mom and dad. I understand that you're bonded with the child in question and are trying to be supportive and helpful to dad, but you need to be very clear that dad and ONLY dad is the only one with a legal dog in this game, and that should mom use an attorney to fight BACK to dad's challenge of the move, one of the things they'll key in on is the "we" issue - which can HURT dad's case (expect that mom's side will try to argue that you want to "replace" her, bringing up alienation attempts, etc. - dad is already going to have an uphill battle since he operated this long without a custody/visitation order, so don't make it harder on him by providing ammunition which can be used against him by the other side).

    At this point we are wondering if it is even worth the money to try adn fight it.
    It's worth the money to get SOMETHING in place, otherwise dad will remain at mom's mercy as far as visitation. Meaning that mom can say "no", or that mom can say "if you want to see the child, then you travel here to visit her for as long as I feel like letting you" and then inviting him to leave after 15 minutes. (You'd be surprised at what people will do when they know they can get away with it). Since mom is the one creating the distance, dad will also want to address who is responsible for travel expenses (soon the child will be able to travel by herself, if not already), how major holidays will be split, etc , and these should be in place REGARDLESS of which parent the child ends up with.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    6

    Default Re: How Can an Unmarried Father With No Visitation Rights Gain Custody

    Regarding child support it has been paid out of my checking account via wire so it is able to be traced back . In addition I have text messages from her asking about child support and she admits there has been no issues in the past 4 years and sees no reason to go through court. Our attorney has advised she could file back child support but a judge would be less than likely to grant asking why she waited so long to file .

    Regarding "We" yes I understand all this and that I have no legal rights to the child what -so ever. I am the step-parent and know my boundaries.

    Regarding out of state costs we were assured by our attorney that since we have a court date the county we reside in will hold jurisdiction. Unfortunatley there is no way to get a rush before she moves.

    Basically teh reasoning behind my post was to see if anyone thought he might have a shot at getting custody or at least physical custody so she can come back to Ohio. I see all these posts from Mom's about dead beat dad's fighting for custody and that is the complete opposite of my husband. He has a very strong bond with his daughter, I would say as strong as she has with her mother. He is not some unreliable dead beat who is in and out of her life. Just wondering if the courts took that into consideration. Our attorney has been vague on our chances adn what angles he can play this at.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    OH10
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    Default Re: How Can an Unmarried Father With No Visitation Rights Gain Custody

    OH frowns on parents moving. The important thing at this point is have the case heard before the childs residency has changed, you appear to have successfully done this.

  7. #7

    Default Re: How Can an Unmarried Father With No Visitation Rights Gain Custody

    Quote Quoting jacks625
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    Regarding child support it has been paid out of my checking account via wire so it is able to be traced back .
    But...a wire only establishes that money was sent. It does nothing to establish WHY. Of course most people would "get it" that a standardized amount sent at regular intervals was a payment for something, the issue is that she can say it was for just about anything (remember, court isn't about what APPEARS to be true, it's about what can be proven). If mom wants to jerk the chain, she can say it was for alimoney that they verbally agreed to, or some old credit card debt from when they were together, or his share of rent that she had to pay for when he moved out, or for her share of a car that they sold...practically anything. Of course the court is LIKELY to accept that the payment is for child support, but LIKELY is only that. The best way to DOCUMENT that child support payments ARE for child support, is to send a CHECK or money order, with the month, amount, and child's name on the notes line. Then if the issue comes up in court, a printout of checks for a period in question can be obatined from the bank to show that the note was in place at the time the check was processed (to combat accusations that the note was added later).

    In addition I have text messages from her asking about child support and she admits there has been no issues in the past 4 years and sees no reason to go through court.
    Yes, that'll be very helpful.


    Our attorney has advised she could file back child support but a judge would be less than likely to grant asking why she waited so long to file.
    Again, "likely". That means there's still a chance. Browse through these boards and you'll find all sorts of situations that weren't "likely", but that occurred nonetheless. Normally I'd agree that the courts would question why waiting so long to file for formal child support, but with dad having waited so long to ask for a custody agreement, that answers the question right there. And, things get questioned yet GRANTED all the time. Mom also has the additional layer of having a substantial change in circumstances with the move - so whereas the money may have been "nice" to have all along, with the additional stress and expense of moving, mom has an excellent arguement that she now feels a need to "lock in" an actual order. Take NOTHING for granted in a family law setting where two very important things in a person's life are concerned (their children, and their financial stability).



    Basically teh reasoning behind my post was to see if anyone thought he might have a shot at getting custody or at least physical custody so she can come back to Ohio. I see all these posts from Mom's about dead beat dad's fighting for custody and that is the complete opposite of my husband. He has a very strong bond with his daughter, I would say as strong as she has with her mother. He is not some unreliable dead beat who is in and out of her life. Just wondering if the courts took that into consideration. Our attorney has been vague on our chances adn what angles he can play this at.
    Yeah, the angles ARE pretty vague. Most judges are going to raise an eyebrow to a parent who professes devotion on one hand, yet never locked in their parental rights on the other. If not for the lack of effort at that issue until now, dad's position would be much stronger. And of course mom or her attorney have the obvious play of further dumping on dad by hinting that dad didn't pursue the matter because he didn't want to pay child support or risk being ordered pay a greater amount than he was already giving (which is the reason it doesn't get pursued in 99.9999% of cases).

    Honestly, I don't see the court awarding dad primary custody - especially if mom, on the advice from her attorney, offers a generous visitation plan, including major holidays, major chunks of the summer, phone/internet/skype, and similar contact. But don't bank on that .... I could be wrong, and, no one can predict what any given judge in any given case will do, only point to probabilities (and of course we're handicapped by only having one side of the story whereas the judge gets BOTH sides). Again, different states put totally different spins on how they see a move - in some states mom would get the blessing, in others dad would have a major advantage to seek primary custody and let MOM be the one to visit. The majority of states prefer to keep the child with the primary caregiver, which would be mom. But OH may be quirky, so let's see what Dogmatique has to say when she checks this thread.

  8. #8
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    Apr 2009
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    Default Re: How Can an Unmarried Father With No Visitation Rights Gain Custody

    (Everything was pretty much covered )

    With regards to relocation even without court orders, because paternity is established Mom is required to notify Dad and Dad will have the chance to object to the relocation. In Ohio, the burden of proof is on the relocating parent to show why the move is in the child's best interest. there are no specific factors laid out, but very generally Mom's motives will be questioned, and her willingness to facilitate the relationship between kiddo and Dad will likely play a huge part in how the judge will rule.

    Because kiddo is 9, Dad might want to consider requesting an on-camera interview (not uncommon in Ohio) with the judge. I strongly urge Dad to request that a GAL (guardian ad litem) be appointed, too.

  9. #9

    Default Re: How Can an Unmarried Father With No Visitation Rights Gain Custody

    Despite all the hoops that have to be jumped through to get the custody and visitation formalized, it is probably in the child's best interests that this is done and done right for the long haul.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: How Can an Unmarried Father With No Visitation Rights Gain Custody

    Quote Quoting Legal Beagle
    View Post
    Despite all the hoops that have to be jumped through to get the custody and visitation formalized, it is probably in the child's best interests that this is done and done right for the long haul.

    Absolutely. Court orders protect ALL parties - but more importantly, the child.

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