Utah Adoption and Unmarried Fathers

by Norris Law Group on February 5, 2014

Father-and-son.-002If a biological father is unaware of the child’s existence and the child is given up for adoption by the birth mother, the father may not have any recourse. In some states, there is a time frame in which the father should acknowledge the child. This time frame often starts from the time the child is born, not when the father found out about the child. Under Utah law, an unmarried biological father is considered to be on notice that a pregnancy and adoption may occur when he engages in a sexual relationship with a woman. He has the duty to protect his own rights and interests.

Before the biological mother can put the child up for adoption, the biological father needs to give his consent. Unless the father has not: developed a substantial relationship with the child by visiting monthly (unless financially or physically unable), taken some measure of responsibility for the child and his or her future, and demonstrated a full commitment by providing financial support or living openly with the child for six months during the year prior to an adoption placement. Under the Adoption Act, the consent of the unmarried father is not required before placing the child with adoptive parents if he has not met the above requirements.

Before the child is born, there are several people that may inform the biological father that the mother is considering adoption. These people include: the child’s mother, a licensed child placing agency, an attorney representing a prospective adoptive parent of the child, or an attorney representing the mother of the child. The notice needs to include contact information for the person giving the notice. Giving notice is not a simple task, there are several topics that need to be covered. It must state the mother’s intent to place the child for adoption, and that the mother has named the man as the potential father of the child. The requirements for adoption must be listed, this includes how the father may contest the adoption. It must also state the consequences of failing to comply with the notice. It must state that the father may consent to the adoption. Finally, that no communication between the mother of the child and biological father changes the rights and responsibilities of the father. This notice can be given, but does not necessarily have to be given.

In order to get actual notice of an adoption, the biological father must start paternity proceedings in a Utah District Court and file notice with the office of vital statistics. Before a child is placed for adoption, the appropriate agency or party should check with the Office of Vital Statistics for any paternity filed in connection to the child. This would enable the biological father to receive notice of the proposed adoption. Once being served with notice, if the father would like to object to the adoption, he must do so within 30 days of being served. The objection requires a motion and legal memorandum stating specific facts and law supporting the motion. Often this objection must indicate an intent to petition for custody of the child in a short period of time. If these requirements are not met, then the father waives the right to further notice concerning the adoption proceedings. Furthermore, all rights to the child are forfeited.

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

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