The Appellate Group

In re J.E.

In re J.E., 2023 UT App 3 (Harris, J.)

Child Welfare

Father and Mother filed a voluntary declaration of paternity (VPD) for Father to gain parent rights over Child. However, after the VPD was filed, a paternity test revealed that Father was not in fact the Child’s biological father. Based on the results of the medical test, the Guardian Ad Litem raised a challenge to the VDP. The juvenile court sustained the challenge and declared the VPD “void.” Father appealed arguing that the GAL (acting on Child’s behalf) could not challenge the VDP. The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed the juvenile court, holding:

  • A child has a statutory right to challenge a voluntary declaration of paternity.
  • Practice Point: The juvenile court should not have described the VDP as “void” because it suggests that Father’s parental rights were terminated. The court remanded to the juvenile court to correct its language.

Read the full court opinion