Interviewer: Up to what point, up to what year is the child considered an adult in Utah, where they say, is it 18 or 17?
Danielle Hawkes: Yes, most of these orders for insurance and for child support and all these things, they go through until the child turns 18 or the child graduates from high school, whichever is later. So for example, in a bunch of kids and you have children turning 18 in January but their support, their insurance, everything else goes until they graduate in May.
Interviewer: Alright, if they have some sort of early graduation, that would automatically conclude that?
Danielle Hawkes: No, whatever is later. So if they graduate at 17 but they didn’t emancipate, then they would still be in effect until they turn 18. So whichever is later.
Adopted Children Have the Same Rights As Any Other Child
Interviewer: I’m confused about how it works for if a child has been adopted? Does it work the same way or is there a whole new ball game there?
Danielle Hawkes: Adopted children have the same rights as any other child and it’s going to work the same way. Parents are going to divorce, with the adopted child, the analysis, the procedure, everything is just the same.
Child Custody Agreements For LGBT Couples In The State Of Utah
Interviewer: Let’s discuss the LGBT situation when there is a relationship. I want to present a situation where perhaps a relationship involving two women, where a woman carried the child. Will the courts lean more towards that individual?
Danielle Hawkes: In Utah, it’s a mess. Everything I’ve said here is different for LGBT people until they are allowed to get married in Utah. Right now, LGBT people, their marriage is not recognized from out of state and there’s only 1,700 marriages that have taken place in Utah and those aren’t recognized either. So basically if the child is not adopted by both parents, then the court is going to almost, it depends on the judge and it depends on the court but the court can give exclusive weight to the biological parent and exclude the other parent entirely. The court can do that if they want to.
The Final Resolution of a Child Custody Case For a LGBT Couple Depends upon the Courts and the Judges
There’s a Utah Supreme Court decision on point that actually allowed that result, It’s called Jones B. Barlow. So basically, until LGBT people can get married and their marriage isn’t recognized, these children are really in a state of flux and they’ll actually have the same rights as other children do, the right to two parents. Now if there is an adoption in place, let’s say the parties raised in California and have an adoption in place where both parents were on the adoption decree, the decree will be recognized under the full space and credit clause and the Utah court should then proceed with the child custody and visitation analysis as it works with any other case where there are two parents involved. How well that actually happens is going to depend on what court and what judge you have.