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Utah takes step forward toward equality in adoption

Utah has recently been on the receiving end of bad press for its adoption laws and their implementation. Some legislators believe that the state is becoming known for being a place where it is difficult for some putative fathers to avoid being shut out of their children's lives. Those that adhere to this belief are attempting to change the law.

A bill styled "SB63" sponsored by Sen. Luz Robles was given the ok by its assigned senate committee to proceed to a vote. If passed, the bill would not take effect until May of 2015, which is supposed to allow time for other states to pass similar laws. The bill enters the state of Utah into an agreement to share putative father registry information with other states. Currently Utah and 31 other states have putative father registries which adoption agencies and attorneys are suppose to search to notify fathers of pending adoptions.

There is currently no federal or national putative father registry despite some efforts to create one. While 32 states currently have a registry there is no consensus of what is required for a father to preserve their rights. In Utah, a father must file with the state registry and initiate a court action prior to the birth mother consenting to an adoption, which can occur as soon as 24 hours after the child's birth. For many out of state fathers, Utah's current laws sometimes mean their child will go to another family regardless of their objections. It is important that anyone who believes his or her rights need to be protected explore the legal options that may be available. While laws can change, the best way to ensure one's rights are protected is to know what can be done under existing rules.

Source: Salt Lake Tribune, "Utah may take lead in protection of fathers' rights in adoption cases," Brooke Adams, February 12, 2014

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