Utah Adoptions – Best Interest of the Child

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Whether the adoption involves a step-parent, a single parent, or a traditional adoption, Utah adoption law requires that the court hearing the adoption petiton consider the best interest of the child (adoptee). Utah Code 78B-6-102 requires that the child’s best interest “shall govern and be of foremost concern in the court’s determination.” In determining the…

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Stephen Howard — Stone River Law

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Whether the adoption involves a step-parent, a single parent, or a traditional adoption, Utah adoption law requires that the court hearing the adoption petiton consider the best interest of the child (adoptee). Utah Code 78B-6-102 requires that the child’s best interest “shall govern and be of foremost concern in the court’s determination.” In determining the best interest of the child, the court is requred to make specific findings of fact, based on information available to the court on issues of the “health, safety, and welfare” of the child as well as the “moral climate of the prospective adoptive placement.”

In uncontested adoptions, a determination of what is in the best interest of the child may be mostly a formality. But in cases (though they are somewhat rare) where multiple parties have petitioned to adopt the same child (often relatives from two different sides of the family), the question of what is in the child’s best interest may be hotly contested.

In general, the court hearing the adoption case has broad discretion in determining the “best interest” of the child. But the Utah Legislature has weighed in directly on the issue of cohabitation by a prospective adoptive parent. The legislature has made special “legislative findings” which essentially override the court’s discretion, determining that it is “not in a child’s best interest to be adopted by a person or persons who are cohabiting in a relationship that is not a legally valid and binding marriage [under Utah law].” While there are other rules relating to adoptions by a single person, the cohabiting rule is the only outright prohibition. Absent a successful constitutional challenge or a change in the statute, this legislative prohibition is binding on the courts.

Finding a Utah Adoption Attorney

We are pleased to offer adoption-related legal services to clients in Davis, Weber, and Salt Lake counties, and throughout Utah. Contact us now to see how the right adoption attorney can help you.