Adoption provides families a method for creating and formalizing legal relationships between parent and child. The Utah Adoption Act governs the steps that must be taken in order to enjoy a successful adoption. An adoption proceeding is commenced when any interested party (usually the adoptive parents) file a petition to adopt.
Utah’s Adoption Process
After the petition is filed, the party who filed the petition (referred to as the “Petitioner”) must comply with the Utah Adoption Act’s requirements for notifying other potentially interested parties, thereby giving them an opportunity to have an influence over the proceedings. The notification and consent requirements depend on the type of adoption and the parties involved.
The adoption can proceed smoothly and quickly if all interested parties are notified of and consent to the adoption. Importantly, any notice sent as part of adoption proceedings must comply with the relevant Utah Rules of Civil Procedure, most notably Rule 4. If a party fails to timely respond to the formal notice then they may forfeit their ability to intervene in the adoption. In instances in which an interested party wants to have a say on the process, a motion to intervene can be filed. This motion, if filed, usually delays the process while the court evaluates the rights and concerns of the prospective intervenor. Biological parents whose parental rights have been terminated (or who have voluntarily relinquished their rights) do not need to be notified or consent to the adoption.
The soonest an adoption can be finalized is usually 30 days after interested parties were served the notice of adoption proceedings. Final adoption hearings are brief and simple if the parties have prepared beforehand. The adoption hearing gives the presiding judge a chance to review adoption-related documents and hear testimony from witnesses. If everything is in order the adoptive parents sign an adoption agreement and the judge signs the decree of adoption.
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