Monday, August 9, 2010

Two Month Relationship with Biological Child is Insufficient for Constitutional Protection

In Re Adoption of T.B.
T.M. v. B.B. & S.B., 2010 UT 42, (Utah Supreme Court May 14, 2010).

From birth, unwed biological father, T.M. (Father) maintained a relationship with his daughter.  He offered to pay expenses for the pregnancy, delivery, and had an informal agreement with Mother regarding care and custody of their daughter.  Prior to Mother’s relinquishment of parental rights to her parents, Father filed a Paternity action and filed a motion to set aside the adoption decree in the adoption case.  The paternity action was consolidated with the adoption action, and his motion to set aside and his petition for paternity were denied.  Father appealed. 

The Supreme Court found that while Father made several steps toward obtaining a right to withhold consent, it was not enough.  He failed to strictly comply with the statute; and his relationship, however regular and important to the child, was insufficient for full blown constitutional protection.  The Supreme Court stated that Father should have complied with strictly the statute.  He had not only the 50 days after Daughter’s birth to comply, but also had the time during the pregnancy.  Because he did not strictly comply, he has no right to withhold consent. Affirmed.

Dissent: Justice Nehring joined by the Chief Justice dissented finding that his relationship with Daughter was sufficient for constitutional protection.  Father did all he could

Special Note: 3-2 Decision

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