Establishing paternity is a simple process for married men in Utah. The state simply assumes that they are the fathers of the children born to their wives unless there is special paperwork submitted claiming otherwise.
The presumption of paternity makes it quick and simple for a man married to a woman at the time of a child’s conception or birth to secure his parental rights. If you are not yet married to the mother of your child, making use of your parental rights can be a bit more of a challenge. You need to affirm with the state that you are the father before you can ask for parental rights, like shared custody.
What steps are necessary to establish paternity as an unmarried father who wants time with his children or a say in their upbringing?
Sign paperwork with the mother
The easiest and fastest way to add your name to the birth certificate for your child will be with the cooperation of the mother. You can jointly fill out a voluntary document acknowledging your paternity.
Some parents fill these papers out at the hospital, but you can sign them at any point while your child is still a minor. After you submit the paperwork to the state, you can have your name added to the birth certificate.
In some cases, there may be questions regarding the paternity of the children or strain in your relationship with the mother that prevents her from voluntarily acknowledging you. What happens then?
The family courts can help unmarried fathers
If you are in a situation where the mother of your child does not acknowledge you as the father, you can ask the courts for help. They can order genetic testing that can quickly validate or disprove your claims of paternity. Even if the mother has been uncooperative with you regarding your paternity claims thus far, she will not be able to ignore the orders of the Utah family courts.
Once you have established paternity and are the acknowledged father of the child, then you have the opportunity to request shared custody rights. Asserting your parental rights and securing shared custody often starts with first proving your relationship with your child as an unmarried father.