How can I establish paternity?

In Utah, there are three ways to establish paternity: (1) a voluntary declaration of paternity; (2) an administrative paternity order; and (3) a judicial paternity order.

A voluntary declaration of paternity (VDP) is a form, issued by the Department of Health, Office of Vital Records and Statistics. In order to have a VDP issued, both the mother and the father seeking to establish paternity must sign the VDP in front of two witnesses after complying with the Department’s requirements. A VDP has the effect of legally establishing paternity, adds the father’s name to the birth certificate (if issued in Utah) and allows the parents to change the child’s name before the child’s fifth birthday if both parents agree. The website for the Department of Health, Office of Vital Records and Statistics is: http://health.utah.gov/vitalrecords/, where the appropriate forms and information can be found on obtaining a VDP.

An administrative paternity order can be issued by the Office of Recovery Services and has the same effect as a judicial paternity order. Administrative paternity orders are usually only used when there is an issue about child support, since an application for child support is the main trigger for a paternity test with the Office of Recovery Services. In order to get an administrative paternity order, one of the parents must apply for child support services with the Office of Recovery Services. Once the Office receives the application, both parents are served with a Notice of Agency Action (NAA). Once the NAA is issued, if paternity is in question, the NAA will instruct the father on how to obtain genetic testing to establish paternity. If the genetic test comes back as a match, the administrative paternity order is issued. An administrative paternity order can legally establish paternity, allow the father’s name to be added to the birth certificate (if issued in Utah), establishes a child support order for both parents, and establishes a medical support order. The website for the Office of Recovery Services is: http://www.ors.utah.gov/index.html

A judicial paternity order is only issued when a court action is brought before a judge or commissioner. A judicial paternity order can be obtained from either the district courts or the juvenile courts. During the court action, the judge or commissioner will hear evidence and testimony from both parties and will issue a final order either denying paternity or granting a paternity order. A judicial paternity order legally establishes paternity, allows the father’s name to be added to the birth certificate (if issued in Utah), establishes a child support order for both parents, establishes a medical support order, can change the child’s name, can address custody, and can set up a visitation schedule. A judicial paternity order is usually only required where there is a contention over paternity, therefore, it is important to consult an attorney if a judicial paternity order is the only way of resolving the paternity question.

Michael Hepworth

Michael Hepworth

Managing Attorney at Hepworth & Associates
Michael is the Managing Attorney of Hepworth & Associates, LLC.
Michael Hepworth

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