WHO’S MY DADDY?! A CALL FOR EXPEDITING CONTESTED ADOPTION CASES IN UTAH

Abstract

While Utah provides for a speedy court process in juvenile court shelter hearings and appeals from child welfare hearings, there are no such provisions for contested adoptions. As H.U.F. v. W.P.W. illustrates, it can literally take years for a contested adoption case to work its way through the court system. Meanwhile, everyone involved-the biological father, the adoptive parents, and the child-faces an uncertain future. While adoption is a vital way for children to find loving homes, the process of adoption should provide stability to children and fairness to the biological parents. This note examines Utah's requirement that unwed fathers promptly assert their parental rights, in a way that strictly complies with the law, or lose them forever. The note then advocates for a speedier and clearer judicial process for unwed fathers who attempt to assert their parental rights. The Utah Legislature should clarify the process by which a father must assert his parental rights and create a less burdensome process of doing so. In addition, an expedited hearing and appeals process should be in place so that a child can have stability earlier in life. This would reduce the chance of drawn out court battles over infants. It would also make it more likely that children placed with adoptive parents would actually need the homes in which they are placed. Part I evaluates unmarried fathers' rights under the U.S. Constitution and state law. Part II discusses the obstacles Utah's law places on unmarried fathers' ability to assert their parental rights and the predicament caused by the law's lack of clarity regarding what fathers must do to assert those rights. Part III explores the interests of the child and the birth mother and concludes with an analysis on ways to protect the rights of all parties involved.
How to Cite
. WHO’S MY DADDY?! A CALL FOR EXPEDITING CONTESTED ADOPTION CASES IN UTAH. Journal of Law and Family Studies, [S.l.], v. 12, n. 1, mar. 2010. Available at: <http://epubs.utah.edu/index.php/jlfs/article/view/287>. Date accessed: 25 nov. 2017.
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