You are the Father: Establishing Paternity in Utah

Nothing is more exciting than the birth of a child, and many times both the mother and father are able to share in the joy. However, sometimes the father is not present because he doesn’t believe he is the father or perhaps the mother does not know who the father is.

To protect the best interest of her child, it’s recommended that mothers attempt to legally establish paternity, even if the child’s father is loving, available, and supportive but the two of them are not married. Here’s a guide to establishing paternity in Utah and some important considerations to think about.

How To Establish Paternity

In the state of Utah there are three ways to legally establish paternity of your child:

  1. Both parents can sign a Declaration of Paternity. This document is signed voluntarily and designates who the child’s father is, while also granting them the rights and responsibilities that come with paternity.
  2. Either of the child’s parents can contact the child support services to file an Administrative Paternity Order. After checking to make sure the paternity has been established through testing, the Office of Recovery Services will assist in this order.
  3. If neither of the above options is exercised, either parent or the child can petition for a paternity judgement. Once paternity is established by the court, they will then dictate specific elements like custody schedules and child support obligations.

Potential Outcomes of the Paternity Process

Both the first and second option detailed above are fairly straightforward in establishing paternity, yet neither of them establish orders that address physical and legal custody of the child.  Paternity itself does not legally establish where the child should live; how much time the child should spend with each parent; or which parent will be entitled to make legal decisions for the child.  

If this is a concern for mothers, reaching out to the court for a paternity judgement is the best option. Once a judge has assigned a court order, it will apply to both parents and ensure that the child will receive all of the benefits they’re entitled to, as well as creating rules for both parents for parent-time and parenting decisions.

All options to establish paternity also include the father’s name on the birth certificate and give parents the option of changing the child’s name provided they are under the age of five.

Dealing with paternity issues can be stressful and sensitive, so at Topham Family Law we are committed to supporting you every step of the way. If you need assistance with establishing paternity in Utah, we’re here to help.

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Written by Jaime Topham