Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Who can adopt and who can be adopted

Utah's adoption policies have recently been center stage in the media and courtrooms alike. Many of the conversations paint Utah as the go-to state for women seeking to give their child up for adoption, with or without the fathers consent. This description has been earned as Utah's laws have made it easier for women to come from out of state and give up their child while setting up barriers for fathers seeking to assert their parental rights.

Aside from the more controversial laws, Utah's adoption policy is not unlike that of many other states. In Utah a person may only adopt a child if they are at least 10 years younger than them, but any adult can be adopted. Individuals who are considering adopting children 12 years of age and older must have the child's consent before the adoption can be finalized. But, once an adoption has been finalized it cannot be contested, except in the most extreme of cases. Although women are able to give their child up for adoption without being a resident of the state, in order to finalize an adoption a couple must be a resident for 6 months to a year, depending on who is participating in the adoption.

Getting help with an adoption can be a smart move for those who are unfamiliar with the process. However, it is important to know that in Utah the only people who can be paid for matching services are licensed agencies.

Utah is one of the only states that actually protects mothers who commit fraud during an adoption. This fraud immunity statute does not invalidate the adoption, but it does give fathers the right to sue for monetary damages, which several fathers are currently doing in federal court.

Source: FindLaw, "Utah Adoption Laws," Accessed on Sept. 8, 2014

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