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Representing Both Mothers and Fathers in Paternity Actions

Early in a parenting relationship, you may feel there’s no need to formalize what you and your co-parent likely know: your child’s father is his or her father. If you’re not married, you decide to just figure it out along the way. You may not realize that there’s a legal necessity to officially identifying your child’s father.

At Christensen Law, our experienced Utah paternity attorneys are aware of all of the legal ramifications of leaving paternity unresolved. We’re ready to help you secure your rights as a father. Alternatively, we can help you legally identify your child’s father, and explain all the potential benefits of that designation.

Under Utah state law, you have several options to secure or declare paternity. Christensen Law is ready to help you understand these options and to advise you which one would be best for you. Contact us at (801) 303-5800 to schedule a free paternity consultation.

How Does Paternity Work in Utah?

If you’re unmarried in Utah and have a child, the father will not automatically be granted parental rights or paternity. Instead, in some instances, the mother is assumed to have “sole legal and physical custody of the child(ren) until a court orders otherwise.” If you’ve decided to informally raise your children together, despite being unmarried, it may be confusing to you to learn that you or your child’s father don’t automatically have parental rights and responsibilities.

If you break up, this legal limbo for you or your child’s father has real consequences. If you’re the father, you won’t be guaranteed the right to visit your child or to have a say in how they’re raised. On the other hand, if you’re the mother, you may need financial support to raise your child. If the father isn’t legally recognized, you won’t be able to ask the court for child support payments.

The good news is that Utah state law offers several ways to establish legal paternity. Don’t just leave your child’s support up in the air.  At Christensen Law, our talented paternity attorneys have experience helping Utah parents attain the stability they need. We can help you establish paternity, and, from there, help with custody and support. We’ve described the three ways Utah state law allows you to establish paternity for your reference.

Voluntary Declaration of Paternity

Voluntary Declaration of Paternity (or VDP) is the simplest process to establish paternity. It is what it says, voluntary. In this situation, the child’s father fills out a form stating that he is the biological father of the child or children, and the mother signs it. Once it’s filed with Utah’s Office of Vital Records and Statistics, his name will be added to the birth certificate. From there, you can begin discussions about child support and custody agreements.

Administrative Paternity Order

Another option is an Administrative Paternity Order, which is administered by the Office of Recovery Services. If you apply for support, they issue a Notice of Agency Action (NAA) to both parents. It will contain details about DNA testing, which the office may pay for. Once the test comes back and confirms the father’s paternity, his name can be added to the birth certificate and a Utah court can determine child support. This may be a good option to prove your paternity if you want to secure a custody agreement that your former partner has denied you.

Judicial Paternity Order

A Judicial Paternity Order is the most involved process of establishing paternity. It’s usually involuntary. As its name implies, the order starts in a court. A parent, usually the mother, would need to begin a Decree of Parentage to add the father to the birth certificate. A DNA test will probably be required. If the parent’s DNA matches, the court can formally issue an order of paternity. After that, once again, the court can settle custody and child support.

Frequently Asked Utah Paternity Questions

Why is the father not automatically listed on my child’s birth certificate?

Under Utah state law, the father is only added to a child’s birth certificate automatically if the parents are married. If you weren’t married, you have to use one of the above processes (Voluntary Declaration of Paternity, Administrative Paternity Order, or Judicial Paternity Order) to legally establish paternity.

What are the advantages of making my paternity official?

Getting paternity declared officially on your child’s birth certificate is really a way to protect your rights. When your child’s father is only parenting informally, you can’t guarantee that they’ll support the child financially or in other important ways. If you’re the father, you also can’t rely on steady access to your child, since you may have no legal visitation or custody rights. It’s an important step to establish paternity and will help with any future legal situations that involve your child.

Can I deny my child’s father his paternal rights?

Utah state law usually prefers to keep the child’s father involved in their life. There are plenty of documented benefits to children who know who their father is, including access to medical history and legally mandated child support. If you think the father of your child shouldn’t have custody or visitation rights, that’s a separate issue that Christensen Law can advise you about. It still may be to your advantage to establish paternity for purely financial reasons.

What if my child’s father lives in another state?

It can be complicated to deal with paternity cases when the parents live in different states. We’re prepared to help you untangle how multiple jurisdictions may affect your choices when you seek to establish paternity. It may be a bit more difficult, but it’s still possible to get the support you need from your child’s father.

Contact Christensen Law for a Free Paternity Consultation

In Utah, parents have both rights and responsibilities. At Christensen Law, we want to help mothers and fathers get the support they deserve. With our help, you can get the state to officially establish your child’s paternity. After that, our talented paternity lawyers can discuss your options for custody, visitation, and child support. We can begin with a free, no-obligation consultation. Call us today at (801) 303-5800.