The term “paternity” means fatherhood. When a child is born to a married couple in Utah, the husband and wife are automatically legally considered the parents of the child. Both members of the couple have the same rights and obligations when it comes to the child under Utah law. However, when the child’s parents are not married, the couple needs to take extra steps to ensure that the man is legally considered the father of the child. A family law attorney can be a great resource throughout this process.
Paternity and Child Support
A mother can only ask for child support from the father if the man has been legally established as the father of the child. Without this determination, the mother must forego this potential benefit.
If the mother applies for child support services, the State of Utah may be able to help her establish paternity. She can get an Administrative Paternity Order from the Office of Recovery Services (ORS) after paternity verification.
When the mother uses the ORS, she does not have to go through the formal paternity process. Instead, the ORS will address the issue administratively and issue an administrative order regarding paternity. Although the ORS order is not an order from the court, it has the same effect. The ORS even has the ability to order genetic testing to establish paternity. Keep in mind, however, that the ORS cannot issue orders related to child custody or support; only a court can address those issues.
While parents sometimes work out an informal arrangement regarding child support, this arrangement cannot be enforced in court. Instead, the couple must first establish that the man is the father of the child and get a court order regarding child support obligations.
Voluntary Paternity Recognition (VPD)
Many couples who want to raise their child together, even if they are not dating, will go through a voluntary paternity process. The couple can sign a Declaration of Paternity to establish that both parents have rights and obligations regarding the child. You can find these forms by contacting:
- The hospital or facility where the child was born
- Local health departments
- The Office of Vital Records and Statistics
Even if both parents sign the VPD, both can rescind the form (or change their mind) within 60 days of signing the document.
Parents can also change the child’s last name on his or her birth certificate through the VPD process as long as the child is under the age of six.
Either parent can also file a petition in court to establish paternity. The other parent may choose not to contest the request. If there is a paternity contest, however, the father and child may have to undergo blood or genetic testing to determine paternity.
Getting Help with Paternity and Child Support
If you want to get child support or you want to establish paternity for any other reason, having an experienced family law attorney to help can be an invaluable resource. Contact Emy A. Cordano, Attorney at Law by calling 801-804-5152 for a case review or further information.