Family Law Attorney in Utah
Paternity Specialized Representation Tailored to Your Goals

Salt Lake County Paternity Attorney

Handling Father's Rights Cases in Draper & Utah County

The legal rights of children born to married parents are automatically established at birth. However, in cases involving children born to unmarried parents, “paternity” (also referred to as “parentage”) must be established in order to formalize certain rights and responsibilities.

Paternity can be established by multiple methods of varying complexity and effort:

  1. The simplest method is when both parents sign and file a voluntary declaration of paternity.
  2. Another option is to involve Utah’s Office of Recovery Services (“ORS”) and obtain an administrative order.
  3. The final method involves filing a formal petition for paternity with the court.

Requesting an administrative order from ORS is relatively simple for the requesting party, but ORS cannot decide important provisions related to custody and parent time. ORS is limited to initiating and enforcing child support and other financial obligations between the parents. A formal court order is necessary to adopt a detailed parenting plan that includes provisions regarding parent time and parental decision making authority.

Your Parental Rights

A parenting plan will likely be the most important section in the final decree of paternity, so it’s important to get it right and be as detailed as possible. In cases involving parents who have had trouble cooperating, a parenting plan should include plenty of details that will govern the parental rights and responsibilities of the parties. For example, a parenting plan should at a minimum, allocate amounts of time the child will spend with each parent.

Parenting Plan

In the event of disagreement, courts and mediators routinely rely on default statutes that award a minimum of parent time to one of the parties. The parenting plan should also assign legal custody and specify a decision-making process in the event the parents disagree on an important decision regarding the child. Important decisions are controlled by the parent (or parents) who are given legal custody of the child. Legal custody revolves around areas such as extracurricular activities, education, religious worship, medical treatment, and access to information.

Child Support

The decree of paternity should also include sections that describe the child support obligation of the parties. Child support is calculated using a combination of factors such as the number of children, the parties’ income, and the number of nights spent with each parent. Mediation is often a helpful method of reaching a resolution to a paternity action without resorting to prolonged litigation.

Because the establishment of paternity can involve important areas such as custody and child support, parents should seek the assistance of a Salt Lake County paternity attorney to ensure their interests are aggressively protected. Call (801) 515-4133 today.

Establishing Paternity Infographic


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Meet Our Team

Professional. Confident. Approachable.
  • Eric M. Swinyard Photo
    Eric M. Swinyard

    Founding Attorney

    Eric M. Swinyard is a divorce and family law attorney who serves clients throughout the State of Utah. Eric’s practice is primarily focused on providing personalized, high-quality legal services to individuals involved in divorces, paternity actions, adoptions, estate planning, and other family law matters. It’s incredibly easy to be taken advantage of during litigation, especially if you are unrepresented by legal counsel. Protect Your Rights You don’t want to be in a situation where you need ...
  • Ryan  Ficklin Photo
    Ryan Ficklin


    Ryan Ficklin is an associate attorney at Eric M. Swinyard & Associates, PLLC. Prior to practicing law in Utah, Ryan practiced family law in Southern California. In 2017, Ryan relocated back to his home state of Utah to focus on serving the people of Utah who need legal representation, particularly in the family law realm. Ryan graduated with honors from California’s Whittier Law School in May of 2015. While in law school, Ryan was a staff member for The Journal of Child and Family Advocacy. Ryan ...
  • Keith L. Johnson Photo
    Keith L. Johnson


    Keith joined Eric M. Swinyard & Associates in Fall 2020, bringing more than a decade of experience as a trial attorney in various types of legal cases. He has successfully guided hundreds of individuals through Utah’s court system. Keith previously worked at an established civil litigation firm in Salt Lake as well as a mid-sized regional law firm. He has substantive experience in a variety of practice areas and is now primarily devoted to serving individuals involved in family law cases. Keith ...
  • Mark  Hales Photo
    Mark Hales


    Mark Hales has over 17 years of legal experience in the areas of family, criminal, and civil law. He handles all types of domestic matters, including custody, divorce, child support, alimony, annulment, termination of parental rights, paternity, modifications, and adoptions. In addition, he defends clients charged with domestic violence and abuse, stalking, violations of protective orders, and other and criminal charges. Mark is a certified mediator for all legal matters and is also a certified ...
  • Justin  Stringfellow Photo
    Justin Stringfellow


    Justin Stringfellow has practiced family law in Utah for 20 years, bringing a wealth of experience to Eric Swinyard & Associates in areas such as divorce, custody, paternity, modifications, child support, and adoption proceedings. In the early years of his career, Justin appeared on an estimated 1,500 Protective Order matters. He is an expert in dealing with abuse and domestic violence components in family law matters. As such, he was distinguished by Utah's Domestic Violence Coalition. Justin ...
  • Eliza  Crespo Photo
    Eliza Crespo


    Eliza Crespo is an associate attorney at Eric Swinyard & Associates. Prior to joining the firm, Eliza practiced estate planning in Utah. Eliza offers a fresh set of eyes to difficult situations and is passionate about providing excellent and compassionate legal services to her clients. Through personal experience, she appreciates the impact of a listening ear and an effective advocate, especially during times of challenge or transition. Eliza obtained her bachelor’s degree and law degree from ...

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