Home > family law general, paternity/child custody > UPDATE: Paternity Law in Utah…New day, same sh**

UPDATE: Paternity Law in Utah…New day, same sh**

In doing some research on adoption, I came across three cases that are climbing through the appellate process that are all nearly identical to each other, as well as to my big, ugly paternity case that I blogged about previously.  These newest ones came out 2014; one even referenced the Pearson v. Pearson 2008 UT 24 case that is currently Utah law regarding unwed fathers’ right (lack thereof) when mom is married to someone else.  The big take-away from these cases is this:  the appellate court in Utah is more interested in keeping a marriage together, even one already on shaky ground given the circumstances, than it is in the biological father’s rights.  They base this on a “best interest of the child” standard, among other policy considerations.

...they don't stay this age forever. Do we tell a 3 or 4 year old that his parents have been lying to him his whole life? Best interest.. It's a solid issue.

They don’t stay this age forever. Do we tell a 3 or 4 year old that his “parents” have been lying to him his whole life? Best interest.. It’s a solid issue.

And best interest may be the best standard to look at.  In any of these cases, by the time the litigation works its way to the appellate court, the child in question is a few years older.  The court is in the position of balancing these three interests–the father’s constitutional right to the care and control of his child, the public policy considerations of keeping marriages together, and the best interest of the child–when it comes to its decision.

The 2014 cases are R.P. v. K.S.W, 320 P.3d 1084; J.P.K. v. L.M., 2014 UT App 191; and J.L.C. v. K.A.A., 2014 UT App 245.  The full cases can be found online at http://www.utcourts.gov/opinions/. 

I do not know if any of these fathers will be appealing to the Utah Supreme Court.  I DO know that the appellate court could not have done anything other that what they did.  Pearson is still controlling case law in Utah, and the appellate court is bound by it–they can’t overturn the Utah Supremes.  Only the Utah Supremes (or a higher court) can do that.  So we’ll see how this goes.

Stay tuned….

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