Father's child custody rights denied in adoption dispute

Even though the rights of biological parents are typically prioritized over those of others in a legal custody dispute, there are exceptions under Utah law. In instances where a couple has a child outside of wedlock, the biological father must take certain legal measures to safeguard his parental rights in the event there is an adoption or child custody dispute. One father is currently fighting to be granted custody of his biological son after he failed to file the necessary forms and his ex-girlfriend placed the baby for adoption.

Prior to the baby’s birth in 2011, the man claims he informed the birth mother that he didn’t want the baby to be put up for adoption. He also contends that he voiced his concerns to LDS Family Services once his son was born. However, court records explain that the birthmother found out that the baby’s father hadn’t completed the correct legal documents and so placed the child for adoption.

The biological father has been fighting for custody ever since. Because he never submitted a sworn affidavit outlining his child care and support obligations, the 4th District Court found that the man essentially forfeited his parental rights.

The man recently appeal that ruling, seeking the judgment of the Utah Supreme Court. The man’s attorney is arguing that forcing unwed biological fathers to submit sworn affidavits as part of complying with current adoption policies is unconstitutional. He claims that the man acted correctly by registering his paternity with the state, and that it is wrong to require unwed fathers to conform to rules that do not also apply to unwed mothers.

The attorney for the child’s adoptive parents, however, contends that requiring a sworn affidavit holds biological fathers responsible in a way a paternity petition can’t.

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