Utah Adoption Laws

Utah, like all states, regulates adoption, including who can adopt, who can be adopted, and other requirements to legally adopt another person. Utah courts look to the “best interests of the child” in adoptions, similar to the way they do in child custody cases. In addition, Utah must follow any applicable federal laws, such as the Indian Child Welfare Act.

For more information on adopting in Utah, see the following table.

Code Sections Utah Code Title 78B, Chapter 6, Part 1: Utah Adoption Act
Who Can Be Adopted Any child or adult can be adopted, if eligible and the Utah adoption laws are followed. If the adopting person is not at least 10 years older than the child, he or she can’t adopt. However, if a married couple is adopting only one of the spouses must be at least 10 years older than the adoptee.
Consent of Child A child who’s at least 12 years old and any adults must consent to adoption, if they have the mental capacity to consent.
Who Can Adopt Any adult can adopt, but must have the consent of his or her spouse if married. Also, a single person who is cohabitating and involved in a sexual relationship without being married may not adopt. This may have been developed to prevent same-sex couples from adopting (although it doesn’t necessarily prevent single gay or lesbian persons from adopting). However, now same-sex marriage is legal in Utah.

This law is written to say the “most beneficial family structure” for children is one with one man and one woman who are married, but there are many reasons this may not be the case and the law is flexible enough to understand there aren’t always qualified couples available for all the children who’d like to be adopted.
Home Residency Required Prior to Finalization of Adoption The home residency requirement or amount of time a child must live in the home before the adoption is finalized is usually 6 months. However, for stepparents adopting their spouse’s children, the child must live with the stepparent for at least one year.
State Agency In Utah, the state agency that handles foster care and adoptions of children who can’t be returned to their families of origin is Child and Family Services.
State Court The adoption petition can be filed in your local District Court or in the Juvenile Court for children who were abused or neglect or had the parental rights of the birth parent terminated in the juvenile court.
Statute of Limitations to Challenge An adoption can’t be contested after entry of final adoption decree, even in the case of fraudulent misrepresentation connected to the adoption. However, a person can seek civil or criminal penalties for adoption fraud.

Whatever the individual circumstances that brought you to consider adoption are, it’s a good idea to speak with an experienced Utah adoption lawyer to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible. Whether stepparent, international, or foster care adoption is the best choice for you, a lawyer who regularly works in this area of the law can tell you more about your options.

Note: State laws are updated all the time, whether by legislators, voters, or court decisions. It’s best to verify these adoption laws by contacting a knowledgeable attorney or conducting your own legal research.

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