Establishing parentage is an important process especially when it comes to determining child custody and support. While every child has a biological father, not every child has a legal father. By establishing paternity, a child’s legal father is named, and their rights and responsibilities as a parent are established.
In Utah, if a child’s parents are not married to each other, the child has no legal father until paternity is established. Once paternity is established, the father will gain certain rights to their child and have their name placed on the birth certificate.
How is paternity established?
There are two ways to establish paternity in Utah.
- Voluntarily. Both the mother and father have to fill out the form for the “Voluntary Declaration of Paternity” and have two unrelated individuals sign as witnesses. The father’s parents also need to sign if the child’s father is under 18 years old.
- Involuntarily. The child, either of their parents, or the State can take legal action to declare someone as the father of a child who was born out of marriage. This is done either through a judicial proceeding in court or an administrative proceeding by the Office of Recovery Services.
When is a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity applicable?
The parents of a child born outside of marriage are not required to sign the voluntary declaration, but it is a legally binding document that can grant a father their parental rights. A voluntary paternity declaration can be signed if the following conditions are met:
- The mother, their husband (if any), and the biological father are all willing to sign the declaration form.
- The mother or alleged father is sure that they are the child’s biological father.
- The parents understand the legal consequences of signing the form.
Note that the parents must listen to an oral declaration prior to signing the declaration form. If you’re unsure whether a voluntary declaration is needed in your situation, consult with a local family law attorney.
What can I do if I changed my mind after signing?
You can rescind or nullify a voluntary declaration within two months of signing by following the format according to your state’s rules. Doing so will notify the other parent of your decision to rescind, along with its legal implications and what you should do if you wish to change the child’s name after.
Note that paternity can still be established in the future. If you have any questions regarding rescinding your decision, call the Department of Health or speak with paternity and child support lawyers.
What does paternity have to do with child support?
Once paternity is established, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, the father has a legal obligation to support his child. Because of this, the parent without physical custody of the child (or noncustodial parent) is required to pay monthly child support.
Do I need an attorney?
If you need to establish paternity to obtain custody or to receive child support, it’s important to seek legal counsel from attorneys who are familiar with family law. Experienced family law attorneys can determine what’s the best step to take to secure your family’s future.
At Wᴀʟᴅʀᴏɴ Lᴀᴡ Gʀᴏᴜᴘ, we can evaluate your situation and discuss your options with you to help you achieve peace of mind for you and your family. Contact us and start protecting your family today!