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Understanding Same-Sex Parental Rights in Ohio

All parents and presumed parents should have a solid understanding of their parental rights in Ohio. When a child is born to married parents in Ohio, both parents have parenting rights to the child. This is referred to as marital presumption.

However, when the child is born to unmarried parents, the non-birth parent does not have parental rights to the child unless legal steps are taken to establish parentage.

While this is traditionally used to guide different-sex parents, same-sex parents are relying on the same system to determine their rights.

The 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges required all states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and recognize licenses issued in other states. This means aspects of family law, such as divorce, parentage, and custody, have changed to allow for the rights of same-sex parents to be considered. This blog’s goal is to aid in the understanding of same-sex parental rights in Ohio.

Establishing Parentage in Same-Sex Marriages in Ohio

Traditional methods, such as a paternity affidavit, genetic testing, and marital presumption, make establishing parentage in Ohio a bit more straightforward.

But many of Ohio’s laws still incorporate gendered language, like “mother” and “father” or “husband” and “wife.” However, same-sex couples can presume that certain laws can be interpreted as gender-neutral.

With same-sex marriages, families develop and grow in a variety of traditional and non-traditional ways. This includes methods such as joint adoption, step-parent adoption, and assisted reproductive technologies (ART):


The act of adoption is a legal process that creates a parent/child bond between persons without a natural parent/child relation. The party who adopts a child becomes the legal parent of the child for all purposes, including the obligation to care for and provide for the child.

The adoptive child is treated as a biological child by the law.

Adoption decrees are indisputable proof of parentage. Once established, they are recognized in every state, including Ohio. So long as they meet the requirements to adopt, same-sex married couples are eligible to adopt together.

In any case, unmarried couples in Ohio are not allowed by law to jointly adopt a child.

Step-Parent Adoption

If one spouse is the biological parent of a child, whether premarital or planned and conceived during the marriage, step-parent adoptions are permitted.

In cases where the child is from a previous relationship, the other parent may still have parental rights that would need to be terminated to allow for the adoption.

Assisted Reproductive Technologies

ART includes such methods as IVF, sperm, egg, or embryo donation, and surrogacy. Ohio incorporates marital presumption and gendered language to indicate that regardless of the technology used, the spouse is presumed to be the other “natural parent.”

Same-sex married couples should consult with a family law attorney to ensure that both of the intended parents are protected.

Legal Help for Same-Sex Parents in Ohio

All parents and presumed parents should have a solid understanding of their legal rights and the intricacies of paternity laws, especially for same-sex couples in Ohio.

As early in the process as possible, consult with a family law attorney to get a better understanding of same-sex parental rights in Ohio. Reach out to the experienced attorneys at Trolinger Law Offices for guidance and assistance on matters related to paternity and family law.