The Appellate Group

Scott v. Benson

Scott v. Benson, 2021 UT App 110 (Harris, J.)

Parental Rights

Scott dated Mother while she was pregnant with Child, who was not Scott’s biological child. Scott and Mother lived together before and after Child’s birth, and Scott took a paternal role in Child’s life for the first several years. After Scott and Mother ended their relationship, Mother and Scott decided to have Scott file a voluntary declaration of paternity for Child, asserting (untruthfully) that Scott was Child’s biological father. Several years later, Scott filed a paternity action seeking parent time with Child. Scott acknowledged that he was not Child’s biological father but asked the court to prevent Mother from contesting Scott’s status as Child’s legal father. Although the district court invalidated the voluntary declaration of paternity as fraudulent, it concluded that Mother was estopped from denying Scott’s parentage. The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed, holding:

  • A voluntary declaration of paternity that is successfully challenged for fraud under Utah Code § 78B-15-307 is not void ab initio, because the legislature did not specifically declare that declarations that are fraudulent are void. 
  • Declarant fathers whose voluntary declarations of paternity are fraudulent may still ask the district court to deny a motion to seek genetic testing under Utah Code § 78B-15-608 and to order the declarant father be the father of the child.       

Read the full court opinion