When a husband and wife have a baby, the law recognizes them as the parents of the child. Both parents enjoy certain legal rights and responsibilities. When an unmarried mother gives birth, the father doesn’t automatically have any of the legal rights or duties that go along with fatherhood. Establishing paternity (fatherhood) gives unmarried fathers all the same rights and duties that married parents have when a child is born.
Paternity is established in three possible ways to unmarried parents.
1. Declaration of Paternity
First, both parents may sign and file a voluntary Declaration of Paternity. The Declaration of Paternity must be:
- In a record prescribed by the Office of Vital Records;
- Signed under penalty of perjury by the mother and father;
- Signed in the presence of two witnesses who are not related by blood or marriage; and
- State that the child whose paternity is being declared has a presumed father whose full name is stated and does not have any other declared or court-determined father;
- State whether there has been genetic testing and, if so, that the father’s claim of paternity is consistent with the results of the genetic testing; and
- State that the mother and father understand that the declaration equals a legal finding of paternity for the child. Very limited circumstances permit a challenge to the declared fatherhood.
A Declaration of Paternity may be completed and signed any time after the birth of the child. Once completed and signed, filing the Declaration puts it into effect. The Office of Vital Records then enters it into their database to establish and maintain it.
The Declaration of Paternity is the fastest, easiest and least expensive way to establish paternity in Utah.
2. Administrative Paternity Order
One parent may apply for child support services and obtain an Administrative Paternity Order. The Office of Recovery Services provides this service once paternity is verified.
3. Petition Requesting Judgment of Paternity
Finally, one or both parents, the child, or the state of Utah may file a petition in court requesting a judgment of paternity. If the court contests the petition, then they may order a blood or genetic marker test to determine paternity.
Establishing paternity provides many benefits to families, including:
- Financial support from both parents
- Includes the child on either parent’s health insurance plan
- May help doctors to obtain the child’s family health history through research
- Permits a father to pursue the rights that go along with fatherhood including decision-making and parent-time
- Gives the child claim to benefits from the father such as inheritance, social security, and veteran’s benefits.
If you are trying to establish your rights as a father, give Christensen Law a call. We can help you work through the legal process necessary to protect your rights.