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Constitutional Law

Suit claims Utah adoption laws allow ‘legalized fraud and kidnapping’

Posted Feb 20, 2014 7:15 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A federal lawsuit filed last month claims Utah’s adoption-friendly laws violate the constitutional rights of unwed fathers.

The suit filed in Salt Lake City on behalf of 12 fathers says Utah erects a "confusing labyrinth of virtually incomprehensible legal mandates and nearly impossible deadlines" for fathers seeking to stop adoptions, the Salt Lake Tribune reported last month.

The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) says the federal suit is the latest challenge to Utah’s adoption laws; the state supreme court heard oral arguments in a constitutional challenge last month.

The state requires unwed fathers seeking to block an adoption to file a paternity action and present a parenting plan after the child’s birth that shows he has paid for prenatal care, or attempted to do so. Fathers also have to notify the state’s Office of Vital records. And it all has to be done before the baby is relinquished for adoption, the Wall Street Journal says.

If an unwed father doesn’t meet the requirements, “he is typically out of luck, even if he didn't know the mother was planning an adoption,” the Wall Street Journal says.

The suit claims Utah laws permit "legalized fraud and kidnapping,” according to the Salt Lake Tribune account.

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