Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Father continues fight for custody of daughter

It seems like an increasing number of cases where fathers are seeking joint or full custody of their children are being reported in the news. As fathers around the country continue to mobilize and fight in court for their parental rights, states are changing old laws and adopting new ones. The changes to custody and adoption laws are being made to address the common notion that courts favor women in any dispute involving children.

In 2008, the girlfriend of a Colorado man travelled to Utah to give birth to their child. Once she gave birth the woman proceeded to sign over her rights to the child and had family members adopt the baby girl. She did all of this without informing the father. The Utah adoption went forward even though the father had filed for paternal rights in his home state. Utah's Supreme Court ruled the child's mother acted with deception - a ruling that paved the way for shared or joint custody situation with his daughter's adoptive family. After fighting for the right to even meet his biological daughter, the man is hopeful for the day she can return home with him and meet the rest of her family.

Since the man's case, Utah has passed additional bills aimed at curbing the type of adoption abuse perpetrated by the child's mother. The first law, Bill 232, added emotional support as part of the criteria for making a determination of parental abandonment when a child is placed for adoption. It is meant to address situations where fathers are lied to or left out of the adoption process. Another bill targets the information agencies provide to women looking to give their child up for adoption. Bill 282 is also aimed at agencies and sets in place a 30 day residency requirement for mothers before their partner must comply with Utah adoption laws. The law was created to stop situations of women having their children in Utah in order to avoid getting the father's permission for adoptions.

Child custody disputes can have a detrimental effect on children, even when both parties believe they are acting in the best interest of the child. In many cases allowing both parents an opportunity to have a relationship with the child will lead to the best outcome.

Source: 9 News, "Colorado dad faces next hurdle in custody battle," Cheryl Preheim, Aug. 11, 2013

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