For un-wed parents, establishing paternity can be very important. Particularly in Utah, unlike married individuals, when un-wed individuals have a child, the man does not automatically receive the title of the biological father. Therefore, if the father wants to have rights to and be part of the decision-making process for the child, it is important to determine paternity. There are a few key things that you should know about paternity proceedings.
There are three ways that paternity is usually established. The simplest option is for both parents to complete a declaration of paternity form and file it with the state’s Office of Vital Records and Statistics. In some cases where the two are no longer together, parents utilize this opportunity to establish other matters associated with the child, such as custody, child support and visitation. Keep in mind that in order for these additional agreements to be legal, they must also be filed with the court. If either parent applies for support from the state, the Office of Recovery Services may issue an administrative order. The parents have time to respond to the order, and if needed, the agency may issue a paternity test. Another way that a paternity test may be necessary is by a judicial order. This usually occurs when one parent files a decree of parentage and the other parent contests the petition.
In all three instances, once the biological father is determined, the courts add him to the birth certificate of the child. Once he gains legal fatherhood, he then has rights to the child, and at that point, he can seek visitation, custody and more. To fully understand what options are available, it may be beneficial to speak with an attorney who specializes in custody cases. Not only will an attorney be able to fight for in all legal proceedings, but he or she can also help you to fully understand the rights and options you have.