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Have you ever wondered what your rights are when it comes to your unborn children? Depending on the circumstances, your rights can be very straightforward, or an extremely complicated matter. A lot of this has to do with the fact that a court doesn’t have jurisdiction over a child until the child is born. Therefore, courts do not normally make orders pertaining to unborn children. In certain situations, this could mean that a woman carrying a child has relatively few limits regarding what she can and cannot do with the unborn child. Since medical records are only accessible with written authorization from the person the records pertain to, the amount of information a woman is legally obligated to disclose to the unborn child’s father may be limited at best.

Paternity Tests

 If you or the mother of the child have doubts as to whether or not the child is yours, you can request a paternity test. If you are ordered to take a paternity test by the court, you must take a paternity test. There is no legal loophole that will allow you to get out of taking a paternity test if ordered by the court. Depending on where you live, paternity tests taken before the baby is born may or may not be admissible in court. However, if you already know that you’re the father of a child, you can sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity. It’s important to understand all of the consequences of signing a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity. It would be best to ensure you’re the biological father of a child prior to signing the document. If you sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity, you may have a difficult time fighting it in the future as the ability to rescind the document is governed by very strict requirements.

Presumption of Paternity

There are certain circumstances where a person is presumed to be the father of the child. These circumstances involve marriage and the husband being the presumed father of the child. Generally speaking, if the child is conceived and born during the marriage the husband will be the presumed father. That is also the case if a child is conceived and born within 300 days of termination of the marriage for any reason. There are nuances and other factors that govern these presumptions, but a well-informed attorney can help you determine if you’re a presumptive parent of a child.

Adoption

In Utah, a mother cannot give a child up for adoption without the consent of the child’s biological father, assuming the father is known and wants to be involved in the child’s life. If the biological father is unaware of the child, there are not many systems in place preventing the child’s biological mother from placing the child up for adoption. If you think you may be a child’s biological father, you will need to register as a putative father on Utah’s putative father registry. This can prevent the child’s mother from putting the child up for adoption without the your consent. Though a biological father cannot force the biological mother to be involved in a child’s life, a biological father can prevent the mother from placing the child up for adoption. But be warned, if the child is born outside of Utah, being on the putative father registry will not secure your rights. Furthermore, there is nothing preventing a woman from moving to a state and having a child in a state with more favorable adoption laws.

Abortion

Biological fathers do not have the right to determine whether or not the mother terminates the pregnancy. Though abortions are restricted in multiple states due to trigger laws, there aren’t currently any laws in Utah that give fathers the right to decide whether or not a woman terminate’s the pregnancy. There’s a lot of of uncertainty regarding Utah’s abortion laws and their trigger laws. If or when the trigger laws go into effect, all abortion would be illegal with few exceptions. However, there wouldn’t be anything preventing a woman from going to another state with laws that do allow for abortion.

Reproductive Coercion

Reproductive coercion occurs when one party tampers with birth control methods, or lies about using birth control, with the intent of causing a pregnancy. Currently, there are no legal ramifications for reproductive coercion. This means that a person cannot be criminally charged for reproductive coercion, nor can they be civilly sued for reproductive coercion. Even if a pregnancy occurs as a result of reproductive coercion, it does not absolve a biological parent’s legal obligation to the aforementioned child. Even if your partner lied about using birth control, you would still be legally responsible for any children conceived. This does mean that you would be responsible for child support.

Relinquishing Parental Rights

Generally, you can only voluntarily relinquish parental rights when there’s another person to adopt the child in your place. For example, if you have a child with your ex-girlfriend, and she remarries, the child’s step parent would like to adopt the child in your place. However, if nobody else wants to adopt the child in your place, you must establish a compelling reason for the court to allow you to relinquish your parental rights. If you relinquish your parental rights, you will not be obligated to pay child support. However, you will also not be entitled to any parent-time, nor will you have input in how the child is to be raised. In short, if you terminate your rights, you will have no legal obligation to the child, but you will also not have any legal rights to the child either.

Getting the Legal Advice You Need

If you think someone may be pregnant with your child, and you’re concerned about your rights as a father, you need specialized legal advice. At CoilLaw our experienced attorneys have experience in all things family law: from custody battles to adoptions, CoilLaw is here for you. If you’re ready to get the legal advice you deserve, contact CoilLaw today for a free consultation.

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