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Utah Family Law Attorney Stephen Howard

Family Law Solutions Start HereSM
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Utah Adoption Law - Best Interest of the Child

Davis County Step-Parent Adoption LawyerWhether the adoption involves a step-parent, a single parent, or a traditional adoption, Utah adoption law requires that the court hearing the adoption petiton consider the best interest of the child (adoptee). Utah Code 78B-6-102 requires that the child's best interest "shall govern and be of foremost concern in the court's determination." In determining the best interest of the child, the court is requred to make specific findings of fact, based on information available to the court on issues of the "health, safety, and welfare" of the child as well as the "moral climate of the prospective adoptive placement."

In uncontested adoptions, a determination of what is in the best interest of the child may be mostly a formality. But in cases (though they are somewhat rare) where multiple parties have petitioned to adopt the same child (often relatives from two different sides of the family), the question of what is in the child's best interest may be hotly contested.

In general, the court hearing the adoption case has broad discretion in determining the "best interest" of the child. But the Utah Legislature has weighed in directly on the issue of cohabitation by a prospective adoptive parent. The legislature has made special "legislative findings" which essentially override the court's discretion, determining that it is "not in a child's best interest to be adopted by a person or persons who are cohabiting in a relationship that is not a legally valid and binding marriage [under Utah law]." While there are other rules relating to adoptions by a single person, the cohabiting rule is the only outright prohibition. Absent a successful constitutional challenge or a change in the statute, this legislative prohibition is binding on the courts.

Finding a Utah Adoption Attorney

We are pleased to offer adoption-related legal services to clients in Davis, Weber, and Salt Lake counties, and throughout Utah. Contact us now to see how the right adoption attorney can help you.


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Utah Family Law Attorney Family Law - The legal issues involved in Utah family law cases are some of the most important and personal issues you may ever face. Whether you are facing divorce, trying to obtain guardianship for a loved one, making plans to adopt, addressing child custody, support, alimony, or other legal matters relating to your family, choosing the right attorney to help you is a critical decision. Contact us to get the help you need.

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Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, Morgan, and Wasatch Counties - and all of Utah.


Stephen W. Howard is Utah attorney, practicing as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC.
With offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties, we are pleased to provide legal services to clients throughout Utah.
Call 801-449-1409 to arrange for a confidential initial consultation.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

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