(KCPW News) A bill that would extend the amount of time an unwed man has to lay claim to his biological child during an adoption proceeding was introduced to House lawmakers Monday. Adoption attorney Wes Hutchins says the current law doesn’t provide due process to prospective fathers.
“It does not give fair notice and an opportunity to be heard by biological fathers. And that injects a tremendous amount of uncertainty into adoptions,” said Hutchins. “If we don’t correct it, we’re going to have more and more uncertainty.”
The bill also requires written notice to unwed fathers who live out-of-state if a child is to be put up for adoption. Currently, a father has twenty days to file several paternity actions once he receives notice. The bill would give him thirty days to indicate his paternity interest, and another thirty to take action in court.
Lance Rich of the Utah Adoption Council, which opposes the bill, says it doesn’t take into account the difficult decisions an expectant mother must make, or her right to privacy.
“Some birth mothers don’t want anybody to know that they’re pregnant. And under those circumstances, if you’re going to require her to disclose who the unwed father is so that they can serve him notice, there are many birth mothers that would rather simply just abort the child than to go through that process of disclosure,” said Rich.
The bill also gives an expectant mother the right to reverse the decision to put her child up for adoption if the biological father makes a paternity claim. The House Health and Human Services Committee decided to hold HB 308 until constitutionality questions are answered, and is expected to discuss it again on Wednesday.
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