Group of fathers file class action lawsuit, claim Utah adoption laws are unjust

Posted at 8:07 PM, Jan 22, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY – Two former Utah Attorneys General are named in a class-action lawsuit filed by a group of biological fathers who said their children were taken from them via adoption without their consent.

The class action lawsuit alleges Utah’s adoption laws make it “nearly impossible” for biological fathers to gain custody of their children before the child’s mother gives the child up for adoption.

Rob Manzaneres said he was living in Colorado with his pregnant girlfriend when she traveled to Utah to visit a sick family member. He said his girlfriend gave birth to their daughter prematurely while in Utah, and when she came back the woman had allegedly given the child up for adoption without Manzanares’ consent.

Manzaneres said he had already filed a paternity action in Colorado months before his daughter was born, but he said he had to come to Utah to fight for paternity.

"I want this to stop, I mean, what I've gone through, no other father should go through, and more importantly, no other child,” He told FOX 13 News over the phone. “We're at a point now where, in my case, my daughter knows who I am, she knows I'm her real dad, she knows I want custody of her, but she's only known one family that's raised her in Utah. This is devastating to her."

Former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff told FOX 13 News he had not yet been served with the lawsuit, but he said he doesn’t believe the fathers are pursuing the correct legal route. He said they would be better served by focusing their efforts on the getting the legislature to change the laws as opposed to going after the Attorney General, who enforces the laws.

“If there is an issue these biological fathers want to resolve, they have a disagreement with Utah laws, then they ought to take that to the Utah legislature, certainly not by filing a frivolous lawsuit, in particular naming the wrong defendants—which is what they apparently have done, again, making clear that I have not yet seen the complaint," he told FOX 13 News over the phone.