Parental Rights in Utah
Utah Parental Rights News
Utah State Law and Parental Rights
Utah law provides "that parents retain the fundamental right and duty to exercise primary control over the care, supervision, upbringing, and education of their children. There is a rebuttable presumption that a parent's decisions are in the child's best interests." (Utah Code Ann. Sect. 30-5a-103(1), citing Utah Code Ann. Sect. 62A-4a-201(1))
HB356, passed in 2015, made several amendments to the family code which favor parental rights in minor ways.
SB 65, passed in 2018, made a substantive amendment to the legal definition of “neglect.” Under SB 65, “neglect” explicitly “does not include…permitting a child…to engage in independent activities, including: traveling to and from school, including by walking, running, or bicycling…; engaging in outdoor play; remaining in a vehicle unattended [with exceptions]; remaining home unattended; or engaging in a similar independent activity” (section numbers and formatting omitted). So Utah parents who want to raise independent, responsible adults will no longer be hamstrung by a system that sees every risk as a call for a neglect proceeding. Read about this positive change in Utah law.
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Utah Courts and Parental Rights
Affirming, and Protected Under Statute
Because of clear Utah law, Utah courts have a history of upholding the fundamental right of parents to make decisions for their children. See, e.g., Jones v. Jones, 359 P.3d 603, 608 (Utah 2015): "First, we conclude that the high court's recognition [in the case of Troxel v. Granville] of a 'fundamental' right of a parent to regulate the visitation of a child implies a standard of strict scrutiny. That standard, we conclude, requires a party seeking to override a parent's decision on visitation to present concrete proof that a visitation order is narrowly tailored to advance a compelling government interest."