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Utah Legislators Propose New Bills Dealing with Father’s Rights in Utah Adoptions

by Norris Law Group on March 18, 2014

14213496_sOn March 12, 2014, Fox News Channel’s Megyn Kelly followed up a February 2013 report by Alicia Acuna which discussed a lawsuit brought against the state of Utah by a dozen unmarried fathers whose children were adopted in Utah without their knowledge. This lawsuit has also been featured in previous installments of this blog.

Acuna updated the story with information on three new laws currently before the Utah legislature. State Senator Luz Robles authored SB 63: Compact for Interstate Sharing of Putative Father Registry Information. Robles told Fox News that Utah has seen an increase in women coming from other states to give birth and to take advantage of the state’s lenient adoption laws: “I think in Utah, they still have some gaps, especially from out-of-state mothers, so this bill will also provide some protection for those out-of-state biological fathers that may not know that mother end(ed) up in Utah.”

A second bill by Utah State Senator Todd Weiler, SB 229: Adoption Act Amendments, would add provisions for mothers who have lived in the state less than 90 days to the existing laws. These mothers would also need to file a declaration with the court regarding each potential birth father.

SB 246: Parental Rights of Biological Fathers, sponsored by Utah State Senator Curtis Bramble, offered improvements to notifications for most fathers. This bill was delayed, however, after heads of adoption agencies wrote to lawmakers to lobby against proposed fixes. The letter from the agency reads in part:

“In our haste to ward off the criticism and bad press stirred up by the negative campaign against Utah adoption laws, we pray we don’t destroy the original intent of Utah’s Adoption Act and consequently destroy the good that comes from adoptions in Utah. This bill would be a major step toward that destruction.”

Fox News was later alerted that Senator Bramble no longer intends to pursue this particular bill.

A statement by Utah State Representative Merrill Nelson from a recent house meeting is also included in the report:  “The policy of this state is to encourage marriage…Our job is to look after the rights of the child primarily, what is best for the child and it’s not to look after the rights of the reckless, unwed father who fathered the child.”

Attorney Graham Norris and his associates at the Norris Law Group serve the residents of Utah County and throughout Utah in the area of divorce. Contact them today at 801-932-1238 or online for a free consultation.

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