We frequently get calls from unwed mothers and fathers who have never been to court, have no court orders, and want to know what their rights are with their children. Often they ask things like, “can he/she keep my child from me?” The truth is without a court order for custody, parent time, and any other child issue in place, your rights may be limited. Two parents, generally speaking, have equal rights to their children absent a court order to the contrary. But what this really means is if one parent is keeping the child from the other, that parent may be stuck until they can get the issue before a commissioner or judge. For this reason, we almost always counsel our clients seeking custody to not wait in getting into court. We have seen numerous horror stories of parents disappearing with children or leaving the state and becoming almost impossible to find. Don’t let this happen to you. If you do not have any custody or other child orders in place, you should act immediately to prevent future problems from arising. Even if you and the other parent get a long great, you never know if something is going to change. Don’t take any chances.
Specific Rights of Unwed Fathers
If you are the father in the relationship, and are not married, you should be aware of the following laws in Utah which may affect your ability to prevent an adoption of your child. First, if your child is less than 6 months old, the mother does not need your consent to give your child up for adoption unless you file a paternity action within 1 day following the birth of your child. There are exceptions to this general rule; you should consult with an attorney for details. Second, if your child is over 6 months old, consent may still not be required unless you can prove a substantial relationship exists between you and your child. Again, for advice regarding you specific situation, call and speak with a St. George Divorce Attorney at our firm today.