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Adoption and Termination of Parental Rights in Utah

by Norris Law Group on February 4, 2014

Any adult 10 years older than the prospective adoptee may adopt. Preference is typically given to married couples, but if it is in the best interest of the child, a single adult may also adopt. The single adult may not be co-habitating with another adult with whom he or she has a sexual relationship.

In order for an adoption to take place, the birth parent’s rights must be terminated or their consent given for the adoption. When parental rights are terminated, consent for the adoption is implied. An implied consent for adoption cannot be withdrawn. A parent’s rights may be terminated if he or she is found to: be unfit, abandoned the child or children, or if the presumed father is not the biological father. In order for a parent to be deemed unfit, there is usually a fitness hearing. This hearing will determine if the parent is abusive, neglectful, fails to visit, has a mental disturbance, is incarcerated, or is addicted to drugs or alcohol.

When a parent abandons a child, it essentially means that the parent has not communicated with the child or provided financial support. A child is considered abandoned by a parent in three different scenarios under Utah law. First, if the child is left with a third party, without providing parent’s identification for 30 consecutive days. Second, if the child is intentionally left with a third party without support, communication, or maintaining a substantial relationship for six consecutive months. Third, the parent receives a notice of pending adoption proceeding or termination hearing and fails to respond adequately.

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