Understanding Paternity Laws in Utah
Paternity means far more than being the biological father of a child. Fathers have a special bond with their children, and that connection must be protected. In the legal sense of the word, paternity concerns a father’s legal rights. Attorney David Pedrazas is a Salt Lake City Paternity Attorney who helps Utah fathers through every aspect of their legal actions pertaining to paternity, including:
- The legal presumption of paternity
- Establishing paternity
- Taking a paternity action to court
- Father’s rights and adoption
- Rights of Unmarried Fathers Before Birth
- Father’s rights and abortion
- Father’s rights during pregnancy
SLC, Utah divorce attorney David Pedrazas has over 20 years of legal experience helping families in Utah. Don’t go through the legal process alone, get the quality representation you deserve from a compassionate Salt Lake City, attorney. Let us help you protect your rights as a father, give us a call at 801-263-7078 to schedule a paternity case review in Salt Lake city, Utah.
The Legal Presumption of Paternity
Utah state law presumes that if a child is born to parents who are married, the husband is the child’s biological father. On the other hand, if the child has unmarried parents, Utah makes no presumption as to the child’s father.
When there is no paternal presumption, a father may wish to sign a voluntary declaration of paternity. A voluntary paternity declaration lets a Utah man affirm his acknowledgement of paternity. If there is no paternal presumption on behalf of a father, there can be dire legal consequences. Fathers without a legal paternity status lose critical rights and privileges pertaining to child custody and visitation. In the event that the man splits with his significant other, all visitation and custody will be at the mother’s discretion unless the father establishes paternity.
Utah law expressly provides three ways to establish paternity for an unmarried father. First, both parents may sign a voluntary Declaration of Paternity. Second, a father may apply for child support services in order to obtain an order to establish paternity from the Office of Paternity Services. Under this method of establishing paternity, the father’s paternity must be verified before the Administrative Paternity Order is granted.
Additionally, a court petition can request a judgment of paternity. This petition may come from the state of Utah, the child, or one or both parents. If the petition is contested by the other parent, courts can order a paternity test to conclusively determine paternity.
Advantages of Establishing Paternity
Establishing paternity is essential so fathers have the same rights and responsibilities regardless of their marital status. A parent’s legal rights will be protected in important determinations such as custody and visitation rights. Paternity is not merely a father’s rights issue, either. Unmarried mothers who wish to establish child support orders in Utah must be able to prove that the man they wish to receive child support from is truly the father. In instances where the father is looking to avoid paternal responsibility, a mother may have as much incentive to establish paternity as the father, if not more.
Children benefit greatly from establishing paternity as well. Establishing paternity ensures, first and foremost, that a child can and will be financially supported by both parents. Moreover, the child will be able to have access to information concerning the medical histories of both sides of the family. Further, the child is only entitled to a father’s Social Security insurance, veteran benefits, and inheritance assets if paternity is established.
A father can also have key insights regarding what is best for the child. Establishing paternity ensures the father’s input will be heard on matters regarding where the child is raised as well as visitation concerns. Since a court makes these determinations largely on the basis of what is best for the child, such input is valuable.
Fathers’ Rights and Adoption in Utah
Fathers’ rights is an area of family law that has expanded significantly in recent years. In the past, mothers were automatically granted custodial rights while fathers were relegated to canned visitation that generally included every other weekend and six weeks in summer. However, one-size-fits-all visitation falls far short for many modern families because they basically relegated fathers to the role of bit players in the lives of their children. If you’ve got questions about paternity in adoption or other situations, contact SLC, Utah fathers rights attorney, David Pedrazas, for more information on adoption and paternity. Give us a call today at 801-263-7078 to schedule a 30-Minute Consultation.
Unmarried Fathers’ Rights Concerning Adoption
Unmarried fathers with concerns about their child being given up for adoption now have much more legal leverage than their counterparts of the past. In all 50 states, both parents must provide formal consent for the adoption to be considered legal. However, until recently, Utah had a controversial loophole allowing mothers from other states to put their offspring up for adoption without the consent or knowledge of the biological father. In 2104, a group of fathers sued the state in federal court and won a victory that resulted in a partial closure of the loophole — mothers now have to reside in Utah for at least 90 days prior to putting their babies up for adoption and they must notify the biological fathers as a condition of offering the child for adoption.
The Rights of Unmarried Fathers Before Birth
The law traditionally grants the majority of rights concerning unborn children to the mother. Unmarried fathers who wish to establish their commitment to an unborn child should make an effort to be financially responsible for at least a portion of the prenatal care to set a foundation for possibly filing for legal paternity rights after the child is born.
Unmarried fathers have no rights under the law to access the medical records of the mother without her consent. Furthermore, when medical decisions regarding the fetus must be made, the preferences of the mother generally carry far more weight than those of the father.
However, unmarried fathers do have rights in all 50 states when it comes to adoption. Establishing legal paternity as early as possible is essential when it comes to exercising these rights. The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the rights of unmarried fathers in cases where a substantial parent-child relationship had been established. However, individual states have nearly complete discretion to limit the rights of unmarried fathers in cases where paternity has not been established.
Evolution of Paternity Laws
The 2014 ruling was just the beginning, however. Utah adoption fathers rights continue to evolve, which makes it imperative to obtain the services of a skilled and up-to-date fathers rights lawyer. Keep in mind that one of the first things a father’s rights adoption lawyer will tell you if you suspect that a woman may be planning on putting your child up for adoption is to take immediate steps to establish legal paternity.
For questions on paternity and adoption in Utah, our experienced Fathers rights attorney in SLC is here to help. Contact the Law Office of David Pedrazas for more information on your rights concerning giving a baby up for adoption, and other issues surrounding legal options for unmarried fathers.
Fathers’ Rights and Abortion in Utah
Do Fathers Have Rights in Abortion?
Although most issues surrounding fathers’ rights have gained significant ground in recent years, fathers rights regarding abortion still remain at nearly nonexistent levels. As things currently stand, pregnant women are under no legal obligation to inform the father in the event they opt to abort a baby without the father knowing even if the two are married. Here’s what those with questions about abortion and the rights of a father need to know.
Can a Father Stop an Abortion?
Legally, a father cannot stop abortion in instances where the mother wants an abortion father does not. In Planned Parenthood vs. Danforth, the Supreme Court ruled that a father’s choice not to give his consent to the procedure would effectively rule out the mother’s right to privacy in medical situations directly affecting her. The reasoning was that the mother’s wishes carried more weight because the pregnancy directly involved her body. Another landmark SCOTUS decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, completely invalidated any existing right on the part of a woman’s spouse to be made aware in the case of his wife seeking the services of an abortion provider.
However, fathers in this position might be able to convince the mother not to go through with the abortion if he pays for the medical care associated with the pregnancy and makes a firm commitment to raising the child after he or she is born. Many women panic when they first realize they are pregnant and may be convinced to carry the child to term if they’re made aware of the father’s interest in raising the child himself. If you suspect this may be the case in your particular situation, you should seek the counsel of our experienced fathers rights attorney in SLC, Utah and explore the possibility of coming to a formalized agreement with the mother in which you agree to take financial responsibility for all pregnancy-related costs as well as commit to accept full custody after the birth of the child.
Does a Father Have Rights During Pregnancy?
Fathers don’t have many legal rights during pregnancy in cases where the woman has been persuaded to carry the pregnancy to term. However, qualified fathers’ rights lawyers will advise you to do as much as possible to establish paternity before the child is born. This could mean taking financial responsibility for medical bills associated with the pregnancy. Also, thanks to modern genetic testing technology, noninvasive DNA testing is now available before the baby is born, making it easier to establish father’s legal rights to the unborn child.
What about the scenario of an unplanned pregnancy and a boyfriend that wants an abortion? The flip side of the above scenario concerning a father’s rights for an unwanted pregnancy is when the father feels he isn’t ready for the obligations of fatherhood and may be resentful because he had no choice in the matter. Certain groups concerned with a father’s rights to abortion have lobbied for a “financial abortion” law for men in this position that would absolve them of obligations, but no states currently have any such laws on the books. However, you may be able to come to a private agreement with the mother which would allow for the complete termination of all parental rights on your part.
Navigate Utah Paternity Laws with an Experienced Father’s Rights Advocate
If you have questions about the rights of a father of an unborn child or any other Utah abortion laws, please don’t hesitate to call Utah paternity attorney David Pedrazas at 801-263-7078 to schedule a paternity case review in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Contact a Paternity Attorney for Legal Counsel on Fathers’ Rights in Utah
There are too many legal rights and benefits afforded to parents who establish paternity to ignore the process altogether. Utah parents need attorneys who will help them navigate any and all aspects of Utah paternity laws. The Law Office of David Pedrazas advises parents so they can establish paternity to protect legal rights and provide for the interests of their children. To learn more about establishing paternity for your particular circumstances, contact us to receive a Legal Case Review and take the first step towards protecting your legal rights and your child.