A recent Washington Post article detailed a shocking father’s rights and custody case that is attracting nationwide attention by pitting Utah and Virginia courts against one another. At its most basic level this tragic story is a reminder to California and Orange County fathers of the need for strong representation when they seek to assert their parental rights.
According to the Post, John Wyatt was stunned to find that his girlfriend, after giving birth, had given their baby girl up for adoption without telling him. In trying to stop the procedure Wyatt ran into trouble at the hospital. Officials there allegedly lied when Wyatt and his mother made it to the hospital and enquired about the child. The hospital allegedly denied that the mother and baby were at the facility although hospital records show they were. The child, named Baby Emma in court documents, is now 14 months old. She was adopted by a couple in Utah a few days after being born and taken there when she was approximately two weeks old.
As the newspaper notes, Utah’s family laws are strongly stacked against unmarried fathers. “Lawyers cite at least 10 recent cases in which babies were taken to or born in Utah and adopted without an out-of-state father’s consent,” the Post reports. In Baby Emma’s case, a Virginia court (Wyatt’s home state) has awarded him custody of the girl (whom he has never seen), but Virginia officials say they are unable to enforce the decree. A Utah court ignored the Virginia ruling and gave temporary custody to the adoptive parents. Wyatt is appealing. The Utah Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear arguments in the case next month.
Baby Emma’s case is a reminder of how important it is for fathers to move aggressively to protect their rights in Orange County child custody cases. An Orange County child custody and adoption attorney can offer valuable advice on father’s rights and how they vary from state to state. Custody and father’s rights cases can often be complicated by the vastly different ways in which different states treat these issues. An experienced and detail-oriented California father’s rights attorney can be your most important ally in your effort to maintain a deep and substantive relationship with your child.
Washington Post: ‘Baby Emma’ case puts state adoption laws between father, child