“Paternity” means legally recognized fatherhood. Paternity suits establish the legal identity of a child’s father. These suits may arise in various circumstances, but always occur when the parents of a child are not married. In Utah, when an unmarried mother gives birth, the biological father of the child does not automatically have any of the legal rights or obligations that arise with fatherhood.
“Paternity establishment” allows the mother, father, child, or State of Utah to legally establish that a man is the father of a child.
– Citizenship: When a child is born to a foreign mother and an American father, establishing paternity may help the child to receive American citizenship.
– Health History: Paternity establishment helps medical doctors ascertain whether a child has inherited any health conditions from his/her father. This is especially important if a child needs an organ transplant or donor.
– Child Support: Utah law requires both parents to support their child even if the parents are not married. By establishing paternity, a child is ensured that both the father and the mother are obligated to provide for the child.
– Benefits: Paternity establishment is necessary to ensure that a child is entitled to his or her father’s benefits which may include Social Security insurance, health insurance, veteran’s benefits, and other sources of inheritance.
– Child Custody: Paternity establishment also gives a father the right to pursue custody of his child. If neither parent can agree on an arrangement, paternity establishment allows a Utah court to issue a custody order that considers both the father and the mother’s circumstances.
– First, if both parents are in agreement that the man is a child’s biological father, the parties may sign a voluntary declaration of paternity form (VDP). Parents typically obtain and sign this form for free in the hospital at the time of the child’s birth. This form is then filed with the Office of Vital Records and Statistics. The man on the form is then considered to be the child’s legal father.
– Second, if the parties dispute a child’s paternity, a party may file a paternity action in court. To bring a paternity claim in Utah, the party seeking to establish paternity must petition a Utah court to issue a judgment of paternity for a child. A court will typically schedule a hearing where the parties may then present evidence to establish a child’s paternity. When parties dispute the child’s paternity, a court will typically order DNA or genetic testing.
If you are involved in a paternity suit or other matter, let the attorneys at Utah.Law provide you with the legal guidance and experience necessary to guide you through the process!