In Utah, being a father gives you the right to pursue custody and visitation of your child, and to make decisions regarding your son or daughter. These rights apply whether you are married or not, but you may have to fight for them, especially in the case of divorce.
In the state of Utah, a child born to a married couple is automatically assumed to be the offspring of the husband and wife. Typically, both mother and father sign a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity (VDP) at the hospital where the child is born. From this moment on, regardless of the status of the marriage, the husband becomes not only a biological father, but a “legal father,” meaning he has all of the legal rights and responsibilities of fatherhood.
If an unmarried woman gives birth, the father of that child can still come forward with a VDP to claim legal recognition. In either case, it is up to the mother and father to develop a custodial schedule and plan for “parent time” or visitation.
Navigating Custody and Visitation Issues
The Office of Recovery Services (ORS) is the branch of the Utah Department of Human Services that handles issues of paternity and enforces child support. Nevertheless, ORS has no jurisdiction over parent-time issues and cannot get involved with custody issues “due to restrictions on the use of Federal Funding.”
As such, the only way to resolve disagreements about custody or visitation is through a court proceeding.
Our Attorneys Fight for the Best Interest of Your Child
Per House Bill 88, signed into law in 2012, Utah child custody laws state that the court:
“may not discriminate against a parent due to gender, race, color, national origin, religious preference, or age, but shall consider the best interests of the child.”
While this bill evens the playing field in any custody battle and recognizes the important role a father may play in his child’s life, proving what is in the best interest of a child is a difficult task.
You may have a hard time expressing yourself, or proving your child’s best interests, especially considering the emotions that accompany issues of paternity, custody, and visitation.
At Pearson Butler, our Utah father’s rights attorneys can help you evaluate and express the best interests of your child by:
- highlighting your past participation in your son or daughter’s life,
- detailing your availability and the flexibility of your schedule,
- and demonstrating your overall dedication to your child’s wellbeing.
If you want to fight for your rights to custody, visitation, and decision-making, don’t stand alone. Tell us your story and set up a consultation today at (800) 265-2314.