Does An Unmarried Couple Have The Same Paternity Rights As A Married Couple?

By March 15, 2016Paternity Rights

When a couple has a child, certain legal rights attach to the parents regarding the newborn child. While maternity rights necessarily are granted to the mother through the birth process, paternity rights, and when they are obtained by a father, varies depending on whether the father is married to the mother of the child. To say this differently, paternity rights are slightly different for an unmarried couple from the paternity rights of a married couple in Utah.

Establishing Paternity

One of the main differences concerning paternity rights of wed fathers and unwed fathers is how paternity rights to the child are established.

  • For fathers who are married to the child’s mother at the time of the birth, paternity rights are automatically recognized in the child’s father.
  • For fathers who are not married to the child’s mother at the time of the birth, paternity is not automatically granted to the father, and must have his paternity recognized by the court before he will have paternity rights to his child. Signing a declaration of paternity at the minor child’s birth and being placed on the birth certificate is not enough.

Unwed fathers have three options for establishing paternity (proving you are the biological father):

  1. Both the father and the mother of the child can voluntarily sign a Declaration of Paternity, in accordance with Utah Code Section 78B-15-302.
  2. The father, the mother, both parents, the child, or the state of Utah can petition the court to issue a judgement of paternity to the father. If the petition is contested, the court may order genetic or blood testing to verify paternity.
  3. Either the father or the mother of the child can apply for child support services for an Administrative Order of Paternity from the Office of Recovery Services.

Once Paternity Is Established

Once paternity is established for an unmarried father, he will have the same paternity rights as a married father under Utah Code Section 78B-15-202. This means that the child of an unmarried father will be conferred all of the benefits that establishing paternity holds. The father will have a legal obligation to provide financial support to the child, and the child will receive any benefits that can be conferred from the father’s Social Security insurance, or veteran’s benefits, and the child is also eligible for any inheritance that the father may have for the child.

On the flip side, a father who has established paternity through the court than has rights regarding custody of the child as well as visitation rights (i.e., the father can request custody and/or visitation with the child from the courts) and is entitled to make decisions regarding the child, such as where the child goes to school, what religious upbringing the child will have, and medical decisions regarding the child.

Call An Experienced Paternity Lawyer in Salt Lake City

Fathers who want to play a role in their child’s life often want to establish paternity. At CoilLaw, LLC, Salt Lake City paternity attorney Jill Coil understands the frustration that unwed fathers feel as they complete the process to establish paternity. The paternity lawyers in Salt Lake City at CoilLaw knows the ins and outs of paternity law in Utah, and we can help you. Let us help you establish paternity of your child, call a domestic litigation attorney in Utah at (801) 884-3775 today.

CoilLaw, LLC

740 East 9000 South, Suite A
Sandy, UT 84094

Phone: (801) 884-3775