Millions of couples cohabitate these days without getting married. In Utah, unmarried couples who have a child together should be clear on the impact on the parental rights of the father, or more accurately — the absence of the father’s parental rights. For the best source of complete information on this important topic for unmarried parents, contact an experienced Utah paternity lawyer. Below is some essential information about why and how you should approach establishing paternity in compliance with Utah law.

Contact  Wall Legal Solutions to work with an experienced child custody attorney to help you most efficiently establish paternity in Utah.

When Unmarried Parents Separate

In Utah, if parents are unmarried and separated, the mother is assumed to have a natural right to custody of her biological child. The father must establish paternity to be legally acknowledged as the child’s parent. The mother has sole physical and legal custody of the child until the father takes the formal actions required to gain parental rights by establishing paternity. 

How Long Does a Father Have to Establish Paternity? 

If a man believes that he may be a child’s father he should sign or file with the court a voluntary acknowledgment of his paternity by 30 days from the date the child was born. After that date, the mother can legally place the child for adoption with no notification to the father. In Utah, to preserve a father’s rights, he can file a paternity suit prior to the date the child is born. Talk to a father’s rights lawyer about your parental rights.

Who Benefits From Establishing Paternity?

The husband is assumed to be the natural father of a child born during the marriage to the mother. But, for unmarried fathers, it is not enough to have your name on the birth certificate. The child, the father, and the mother benefit in very important ways from having paternity legally established: 

  • How the Child Benefits: Until paternity is established, a child is missing some important rights, including rights to receive various health insurance, income insurance, and other critical financial benefits:
    • Health insurance benefits
    • Veterans’ benefits
    • Inheritance rights
    • Social Security benefits
  • How the Father Benefits: Until paternity is legally established, the father has no legal rights as a parent of the child. He has no right to visitation or to be considered for any extent of custody. Having paternity legally established gives him a father the legal standing as the child’s father. 
  • How the Mother Benefits: Mothers need to have paternity established so that their children will have a legal right to the father’s financial benefits and so they can be eligible for child support

For more information about paternity, see the Utah Courts’ PDF publication Establishing Court-Ordered Paternity: A Guide for Unmarried Parents regarding children of unmarried parents:

How to Establish Paternity Under Utah Law

Based on the information above, clearly, the best interests of the child, the father, and the mother are all served best by legally establishing paternity. In Utah, there are several legal approaches to establishing paternity:

  • Judicial Paternity Order: A court order declaring paternity can be obtained. Either parent can file for it.
  • Administrative Paternity Order: The Office of Recovery Services can legally establish paternity through their processing.
  • Voluntary Declaration of Paternity (VDP): The mother and father will both sign an official confirmation of paternity, in addition to entering the father’s name on the birth certificate, usually at the time of birth.

Paternity Testing

When the mother is unsure of who the child’s father is, a man may have a test to validate the claim that he is the biological parent. Upon establishing paternity, the two parents have the same standing legally regarding child custody that the courts recognize for the parties in divorce cases. The separating parents can come to a custody agreement, and the court can approve it and thereby make it legally binding.


How can I establish paternity in Utah?

In Utah, you can establish paternity either voluntarily or involuntarily. If both parents agree, the legal father can voluntarily acknowledge paternity by jointly signing a declaration of paternity document. If there is disagreement, paternity can be established involuntarily through a district court action where a judge orders child custody and a DNA test.

What is the process for determining paternity in Utah?

The process for determining paternity starts with either voluntary acknowledgment or a paternity suit. In case of a dispute, the district court can order genetic testing. The results of the DNA testing, along with any other relevant evidence, are then considered in court to establish fatherhood.

What are the benefits of establishing paternity in Utah?

Establishing paternity in Utah has several benefits. It grants the legal father certain rights, such as child custody and visitation, and responsibilities, including child support. It also provides the child legal benefits such as access to the father’s medical and life insurance, inheritance rights, and access to the father’s medical history.

Can paternity be established if the father is not listed on the birth certificate in Utah?

Yes, paternity can be established if the father is not listed on the birth certificate in Utah. This can be done either voluntarily, by having the father acknowledge paternity, or involuntarily, by filing a paternity action in the district court, which may include DNA testing.

What steps do I need to take to establish paternity if the father is denying it in Utah?

If the alleged father is denying paternity in Utah, the mother can file a paternity action in the district court. The court will then most likely order DNA testing to determine fatherhood. Legal representation is advised in this process.

How does the court determine paternity in Utah?

The district court in Utah determines paternity based on evidence presented, which may include a voluntary declaration of paternity, witness testimonies, and results from DNA testing.

What rights and responsibilities come with establishing paternity in Utah?

Upon establishing paternity in Utah, the legal father gains rights such as the possibility for child custody or visitation. There are also responsibilities like financial support of the child, contribution to the child’s medical expenses, and the child’s access to the father’s medical and life insurance, where applicable.

Can paternity be established through DNA testing in Utah?

Yes, DNA testing is a common and reliable method for establishing paternity in Utah. If paternity is disputed, the district court may order a DNA test to conclusively determine whether the individual is the child’s biological father.

What is the deadline for establishing paternity in Utah?

The deadline for establishing paternity in Utah is generally before the child turns 18. Establishing paternity after this period requires additional steps and legal justification.

Are there any resources available to help with establishing paternity in Utah?

Yes, there are numerous resources available in Utah to help with establishing paternity. These include the Office of Recovery Services, local health departments, and legal firms such as Wall and Wall Attorneys at Law PC. They can guide individuals through the process of voluntarily acknowledging paternity or initiating a legal action in the district court for involuntary paternity determination.

Facts About Establishing Paternity in Utah

  • Establishing paternity in Utah is the legal process of determining the legal father of a child.
  • Paternity can be established through various methods, including voluntary acknowledgment, genetic testing, or a court order.
  • Voluntary acknowledgment of paternity can be done by both parents signing a legal document called a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity.
  • Genetic testing, such as DNA testing, can be used to establish paternity if there is a dispute or uncertainty about the biological father.
  • If the alleged father refuses to cooperate with genetic testing, a court order can be obtained to compel him to participate.
  • Once paternity is established, the legal father has rights and responsibilities towards the child, including child support, custody, and visitation.
  • Establishing paternity is important for both the child and the father, as it provides legal rights and benefits, such as inheritance rights and access to medical records.
  • It is advisable to seek the assistance of a fathers’ rights lawyer in Salt Lake City, Utah, who specializes in paternity cases to navigate the legal process smoothly.


Resolve Your Paternity Dispute – Wall Legal Solutions

For child custody or other family law cases, we can help you determine your best options. If you need help with the process of legally establishing paternity or coming to a custody agreement or are engaged in a conflict over child support, we can help you. 

For help with paternity, custody, child support, or parent-time schedules, call Wall & Wall Attorneys at Law, P.C, at (801) 441-2388 or contact us here online.

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