A Change in Utah’s Adoption Law (Part 4 of 5)

by Norris Law Group on March 13, 2014

10770322_sThis five-part series examines the case of In re Baby B, in which a single mother from Colorado traveled to Utah to give birth and then put the baby up for adoption in Utah without the father’s knowledge or consent.

In the previous installment, we discussed a Utah Supreme Court ruling which found that the biological father was not aware of the adoption, based on factors considered paramount under Utah state law.

This ruling by the Supreme Court does not relieve biological fathers from compliance with the statute. However, it gives a little more leeway. If there is no way the father could have known that the child was being given up for adoption in Utah, the trigger for strict compliance continues until “just before the time the mother executed a consent or relinquishment”¶ 79. The statutory trigger is proof that the father knew or could have known one of the qualifying circumstances. ¶ 79.

The first qualifying circumstance does not require any intent on the part of the mother ¶ 82. It is a purely factual question as to whether the mother resided in Utah. The mother in this case was not determined to be a resident because her stated purpose to visit the state was to visit Utah for a few days and then return to Colorado for the rest of her pregnancy. ¶84 “Even if an individual plans to move to Utah on a permanent basis, surely she cannot be said to have temporarily resided here the moment she crosses state lines. Some threshold time period must first be met. ¶89. An earlier case found that a woman who was only in the state for a short period of time was residing in Utah. The mother was in Utah from early June until June 15 in the year of the child’s birth for the sole purpose of giving birth and relinquishing an infant for adoption. ¶85 The difference from that case with this case was that the stated purpose of the mother coming to Utah was to visit for a few days and then return to Colorado.

Ultimately the Supreme Court found that the district court in this case erroneously concluded that the father “knew, or through the exercise of reasonable diligence should have known of one or more qualifying circumstance.” Id at ¶92 The case was sent back to the lower court to determine whether he had fully complied with Colorado’s requirements to establish his paternal rights to Baby B.

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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