Juvenile Court: Custody of a Child by Two non-married People

My spouse had a baby with someone else during our marriage. I am not legally the parent of that child, right?

Sometimes spouses separate before they are divorced and begin relationships with other people. If one of the spouses has a child or gives birth to a child whose paternity is biologically not part of both spouses, this can cause confusion during the legal process.

A Married person has a child with a Non-Spouse

Ohio law states an unmarried mother is automatically the custodian of the child, unless a court order says otherwise. For paternity to be established formally, the non-married parent that didn’t give birth to the child must petition the court to establish paternity through DNA testing. If married person has a baby with a person that is not their spouse, then that child will not be subject to any divorce proceedings of the married parent, because the person that gave birth to the child is the custodian.  In this scenario, the Spouse of the married parent is NOT considered a parent of the child

A Married Person has a child with Someone other than their Spouse

The situation is completely different if a woman gives birth to a child during the marriage. If a woman gives birth to a child while married, the spouse is automatically presumed to be the other parent under Ohio law and the spouse’s name must be put on the birth certificate. Even if both parties know that a different person is the other biological parent, the hospital will likely still put the spouse’s name on the birth certificate. This presumption that the spouse is the parent, complicates the divorce process. When getting a divorce, the non-biological parent must then ask the court to de-establish paternity on the child to avoid including that child in the divorce process.

Juvenile Law: How can I gain custody of my children if they have been removed by children services?

Juvenile Law: How can I regain custody of my children if they have been removed by children services?

Daryle C. Tibbs, owner of Tibbs Law Office, continues a new series dedicated to the topic of Family Law.

For more online sources on this and similar topics, please visit our firm youtube channel at:

Tibbs Law Office, LLC
8845 Governors Hill Dr., Ste 450
Cincinnati, OH 45249
(513) 793-7544

Juvenile Court- Delinquency and Unruly Cases

Because many attorneys do not work in the juvenile courts, it is something I get asked about often.  Juvenile court is very different from common pleas and municipal court.  I got interested in working in the juvenile court when I was working on my Masters degree at Xavier University.  It was at Xavier that I learned that juvenile courts were developed to deal with the unique issues of juveniles and to help give children a second chance when they mess up.  Unfortunately, juvenile courts have morphed into something very different since their creation.

Many clients contact me regarding their son or daughter’s case.  Often times, the parent is not satisfied with the advice they are getting from the court appointed counsel.  I do my best to explain the following:

1) If your son or daughter is charged with a “crime” in juvenile court it is called either “delinquency” or “unruly.”
2) Your child basically has two choices.  They can admit the allegations in the complaint, or they can deny the allegations in the complaint.
3) If your child admits the allegations, the case automatically goes to disposition and the child is “sentenced.”  Depending on the allegation, sentencing may include probation, writing a letter of apology, time in detention, house arrest, community service, and many other options, all at the discretion of the Magistrate or Judge.
4) If your child denies the allegations, the court sets the case for a trial.  At trial, the court will determine whether the juvenile is responsible for the alleged acts.  Unfortunately, if your child denies the allegations but then is found responsible for the acts, the fact that your child denied the allegations may be used against your child when it comes time for disposition (although not overtly).

Many parents admit to me that their child committed the act alleged; however, they do not feel their child should admit to the allegations because of the repercussions later in life.  I would agree with this approach 99% of the time for adults; however not necessarily with juveniles in juvenile court.

The juvenile should certainly ask for counsel to be appointed.  Once appointed, counsel can solicit plea offers; however, plea bargains are not offered as often in juvenile court as they are in common pleas court and they do not have quite the same effect in juvenile court.  The reason pleas are not offered as often is because the child does not get “charged” unless the prosecutor has a solid case.  The reason pleas do not have the same effect as in common pleas or municipal court is because in those courts, the crime of conviction often dictates the parameters of sentencing that the Judge can order.  In juvenile court, the Judge has a lot of discretion because sentencing guidelines in juvenile court do not exist.  Even if the child admits the allegations, he/she will still be given the opportunity to make a statement and provide mitigating arguments, which is often all the juvenile wants.

While it is never a bad idea to get a second opinion in your case, if your court appointed counsel is asking your child to admit the allegation in a juvenile court case, this is probably not the result of laziness or incompetence.  You should ask the child’s attorney what other options you have, assuming that your child committed the alleged act.  You will likely see that your other options aren’t great.

If your child vehemently denies the allegation, you must decide whether you believe him/her.  Hiring counsel and going to trial is only a good option if your child really didn’t commit the alleged act (and not just that they deny doing it, but that they, in fact, didn’t do it) and that is something that you probably don’t know for sure, unless you were there when the incident occurred.