Adoption Petitions in Utah – Initial Filings

Stephen Howard — Stone River Law

Real People. Real Solutions.

Adoption Petitions in Utah – Initial Filings

What are the location and timing requirements for filing adoption petitions in Utah?

Utah Code 78B-6-105 governs venue (location), jurisdiction, and timing requirements for initial filing and notice of adoption petitions in Utah. This page presents only general information on these issues. For legal advice and for assistance in completing a successful adoption in Utah, contact us today. Our attorneys are pleased to assist clients statewide.

Jurisdiction and Venue in Adoption Cases

When prospective adoptive parents live in Utah, the adoption petition is normally filed in the district court for the county where the prospective parents live. Adoption petitions in Utah can also be filed on behalf of out-of-state prospective parents. If the prospective parents do not live in Utah, then the adoption petition there are three filing options. The petition can be filed either: 1) in the district where the adoptee was born; 2) where the adoptee lives at the time of filing the petition; or 3) where at least one of the current parents lives when the petition is filed.

If the juvenile court has already assumed jurisdiction over the child in an action to terminate parental rights, then a subsequent petition to adopt will normally be filed in the juvenile court.

Once the appropriate court is determined and the adoption petition has been filed, there will be a variety of notices, orders, or agreements that will need to be filed prior to finalization of the adoption. All of these will need to be filed in the same court in which the initial adoption petition was filed.

Filing and Placement Time Requirements for Adoption Petitions in Utah

Depending on circumstances, an adoption petition in Utah can be filed either before or after a child has been born. At the latest, the adoption petition should normally be filed no later than thirty days after the child has been placed in the home of the prospective parents for the purpose of adoption. A court (or an adoption agency if placement has been arranged by an agency) can extend the filing time under appropriate circumstances.

There is no requirement that the child be formally placed in the prospective parents’ home before the adoption petition can be filed. In many private and agency adoptions, the petition is filed before placement or even before the child is born.

Jurisdiction over Non-Residents

Jurisdiction over a non-resident can be conferred on a Utah court based on the presence of the child in the state. If the non-resident is a person whose consent is needed for the adoption, the child’s presence itself functions to give jurisdiction to the Utah courts for purposes of the adoption proceedings. This is true even if the non-resident has no other ties to the state.

Although the child’s presence in the state confers jurisdiction, notice requirements must still be met. Properly served notice will give the court the same jurisdiction over the absent person as the court would have if the person were in Utah. Notice given to a person outside the state must be given at least five days before the time at which the person must appear in court.