Because we are Child Support Lawyers, we often get asked about child support in the family law context in Utah. Having a child is one of the most wonderful experiences you could ever imagine, even if you are not married. But you can have some legal challenges when establishing child support if you ever decide to end your relationship.
Child Support in Utah if You’re Not Married
Yes, you can get child support whether you are married or unwed. Statistics clearly show that over 40% of births in the United States happen to unmarried couples. Although the percentage is lower in Utah, there are still 20% unwed couples that struggle with child custody and child support issues. Thankfully, you can handle important issues surrounding child custody and child support with the help of an experienced Salt Lake City child support attorney.
This is one of the most important aspects to consider before creating a visitation agreement. Without establishing paternity, you can’t claim inheritance rights, financial benefits, insurance benefits and Social Security benefits. A child support order requires the father to establish parentage. In other words, the father must have a legal relationship with the child otherwise the court can’t create visitation agreements, custody, and financial arrangements.
There are two ways to establish paternity in Utah:
- The father can sign a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity.
- Take a paternity test if the paternity is in question.
THE MOTHER IS ALWAYS AWARDED CUSTODY
It doesn’t matter how great the father is, the unwed mother generally gains the primary custody of the child. It’s her legal and natural right after the child is born. This means her rights are far superior to the fathers and any other person in the family. However, as long as the father establishes legal paternity, he can claim his child custody or visitation rights in court. Sometimes these cases can be contentious and you may need the assistance of a Salt Lake City child support attorney.
Establishing paternity can be helpful in cases of child abandonment. If a child is not safe he or she can be immediately removed from the mother’s custody and the father can automatically gain custody. However, if the father is not listed on the birth certificate, he can’t claim these rights and the child will be sent to foster care. Also, some unwed mothers may place the children up for adoption without the father’s consent. If the father hasn’t established paternity yet, he may need to go through a complex legal process in order to claim his parental rights.
CLAIMING THE CHILD ON YOUR INCOME TAX
Only one parent can claim the child as a dependent on the tax return yet the person who claims the children can change each year. Some parents may work out a plan that will benefit more the children and the whole family. But the non-custodial parent or parent providing child support can’t claim child support on his or her taxes.
GRANDPARENTS CAN ALSO SEEK LEGAL GUARDIANSHIP
The percentage of children living with grandparents increases every year. Unfortunately, in most of these cases, grandparents don’t have legal guardianship. This can be a problematic situation leading to several legal complications, which can be solved with the help of an experienced Salt Lake City guardianship attorney.
WHY SHOULD YOU MAKE GUARDIANSHIP LEGAL?
Having a formal relationship with your grandchildren can be rewarding. If you don’t have legal custody or guardianship, the children can be taken away from you at any time. In some cases, parents are able to cut off contact between the children and grandparents. Having legal custody does not guarantee your grandchildren will stay with you forever but you will reap many legal services and benefits.
WHEN ARE THE CHILDREN LEFT IN THEIR GRANDPARENT’S CARE?
This generally happens when the parents have problems such as substance abuse. There are also parents having physical, emotional, and financial problems who may leave the children with grandparents. Courts grand custody base on the child’s best interests. It is possible for grandparents to be awarded sole custody as long as they can prove the parents are unfit for custody.
WHY SOME PARENTS CUT OFF GRANDPARENTS?
Some parents may wish to keep their children and stop all contact between grandparents and grandchildren. Some of the most common reasons for this to happen include:
- Jealousy – Grandparents that spend a lot of time with the children have a good relationship with them.
- Poor parenting skills – Some parents may not have the best parenting skills and they feel it is too hard to live up to their parents’ expectations.
- Regret – Some parents are reminded of why they gave up their children every time they see the grandparents.
Although these are not solid reasons to cut off grandparents, some parents may feel uncomfortable with having the grandparents interfering in their children’s lives.
RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF GUARDIANS FOR MINOR CHILDREN
Guardians can make decisions regarding their grandchildren’s education and healthcare. They are legally responsible for their care, including finances. If you are a grandparent seeking guardianship, it’s important you hire expert advice.
GUARDIANSHIP VS. CUSTODY
A guardianship is generally sought when one parent is disabled or can’t care for the child due to other life-altering conditions such as drug abuse. However, once the parent is ready to have the children back, the guardianship generally ends. The focus is always on the child. In other words, both grandparents and parents should think about which option best serves the children’s interests.
WHY SOME GRANDPARENTS QUIT?
It is easier to quit than to fight for your grandchildren’s well-being. If you believe your grandchildren are not being raised in a safe environment, you should contact local authorities immediately and a Salt Lake City guardianship attorney to help you gain custody of the children. Don’t let these legal matters slide before it is too late.
Free Consultation with Child Support Lawyer
If you have a question about child support or if you need to collect back child support or get it changed, please call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506