Same-sex custody matters in Ohio are held in juvenile court, and state laws have not yet formally addressed same-sex relationships in regards to children. As a result, many same-sex couples find themselves in awkward and murky legal ground when it comes to establishing a custody relationship with a child or litigating a conflict with custody.
Most same-sex custody issues in Ohio involve two mothers. One is often the biological mother who has a natural legal relationship with the child and a second mother who is trying to gain custody rights. Since same-sex marriage and other relationships are not recognized in Ohio, the only choice a same-sex couple has is called co-custody. The same option is essentially available to male partners as well so long as one of them is a biological parent.
A co-custody agreement protects the parent-child relationship in the event that the biological parent dies or the partnership between the two parents ends. In the least, it allows the non-biological parent in the couple to have certain custody and visitation rights when they would normally not be recognized. It also allows that person to argue their right to see the child or take custody should the same-sex relationship dissolve as in a divorce-like situation.
This is an imperfect legal option originally designed for heterosexual couples that were not married, but it gives a same-sex couple an important legal option. When you are faced with the daunting task of trying to create a legal relationship between yourself and the child of your partner, then the guidance of an attorney becomes important. For more information, please view our page on same-sex custody litigation.
Source: Craig P. Treneff, "Same Sex Custody Under Ohio Law", December 24, 2014