A quirk of Utah law has held that whomever a mother is married to at the time a child is born becomes the legal father of that child, even if they are not the biological father. Consequently, if the biological father wishes to claim paternity thereafter, they have had to try and overcome this legal barrier in spite of the plain evidence of their paternity.
“The initial question before us is whether the UUPA grants standing to biological fathers—termed ‘alleged fathers’ in the statute—when another man is legally presumed to be the child’s father,” Justice Paige Petersen wrote.
The justices unanimously did not consider a constitutional challenge to the law but agreed that the “alleged fathers” should have the ability to seek to establish paternity in the court system.
“Establishing the mother-child relationship is usually a straightforward matter because the mother has given birth to the child,” Justice Petersen wrote. “But because this is not the case for the father, Utah law creates a presumption that a married mother’s husband is the father of the child if the child is born during the marriage. This presumption is rebuttable.”
The Court’s opinion goes on to state:
“We conclude that section 78B-15-602 of the UUPA grants standing to alleged fathers seeking to adjudicate their paternity, and nothing in subsection 607(1) revokes that standing. We overrule R.P. v. K.S.W., 2014 UT App 38, 320 P.3d 1084. And we reverse the district court’s dismissal of Castro’s paternity petition and remand to the district court for further proceedings.”
Now, in Utah, the biological father has the right to pursue a Paternity Petition, voiding an arbitrary assumption previously codified in state code.
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