Importance of Paternity
Utah law states that establishing paternity provides support for the child. Whether or not the parents are married, the law requires that both parents support the child. Establishing paternity also ensures that the father maintains his legal right to share custody, have visitations, and share decision-making responsibilities for the child. Identifying paternity reveals the child's family medical history, ensures his citizenship ,and entitles him to certain benefits from his father, such as veteran's benefits, inheritance rights, Social Security insurance benefits, and other allowances,
Declaration of Paternity
Under Utah law, there are two ways to establish paternity. The first is by a court or state-ordered genetic test that clearly identifies the father. The second way is a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity signed by the child's parents, and filed with the Utah Department of Health, Vital Records and Statistics. When both parents sign the declaration, it must be witnessed by two people not related to either parent. If the father is under 18 years old, one of his parents or his legal guardian must also sign. The declaration is legally binding, so it is important that a man only sign if he knows he fathered the child. Similarly, if the mother is not certain the man is the father, the form should not be signed. Neither parent should sign if they do not fully understand the ramifications.
While there is no deadline to sign the Voluntary Declaration of Paternity, it is advantageous that it be signed while the mother and child are still in the hospital. The birth certificate will reflect the names of both parents, and signing early avoids additional procedures at a later date. Either parent may cancel or rescind the Voluntary Declaration within 60 days, or before the date when a child support order is instituted. The Utah Department of Health, Vital Records and Statistics handles the rescission. If one parent files this document, the other is notified by mail. Once paternity is rescinded, the Voluntary Declaration is treated as if it never existed, and the father's name is expunged from the child's birth certificate. While the declaration can be rescinded, paternity can still be established through state or court-ordered genetic testing.
Administrative Procedures Act
Once paternity is established, the father is legally bound to support the child, whether or not he lives with the mother. The Utah Administrative Procedures Act (UAPA) allows specific state agencies the authority to create directives to the father to establish paternity, and order him to pay child support. Although UAPA does not involve a court, it has the same impact of a court order. A father under 18 years old is still obligated to pay child support.
- Baby image by Yvonne Bogdanski from Fotolia.com