This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
A Colorado man's legal fight to gain parental rights for his son has reached the Utah Supreme Court a second time.
The high court on Wednesday heard arguments in Bobby L. Nevares' appeal of the dismissal of his case by a judge who said Utah does not have the authority to hear the matter because none of the parties live in the state.
Neither of the biological parents live in Utah and the boy, who is now 5 years old, was placed with adoptive parents who live in Illinois, according to court records.
Attorney Wesley Hutchins, who represents Nevares, said the child was born in Utah and spent the first eight days of his life in the state under the legal custody of an adoption agency. He argued that those facts make Utah the boy's home state and that Utah has jurisdiction to hear the case.
The adoptive parents' attorney, Brent Wride, countered that "mere physical presence" during those days after birth does not mean Utah is the child's home state.
The court should look at whether at least one parent has a significant connection with the state, Wride added.
The Supreme Court justices took the arguments under consideration.
According to court documents, the child's birth mother became pregnant while she was in a brief relationship with Nevares in Colorado. The month before she gave birth, the mother, identified as M.L.S. in court papers, told Nevares she was pregnant and intended to place the child for adoption.
Nevares took steps in Colorado to contest an adoption but M.L.S. later traveled to Utah, where she gave birth on Sept. 29, 2010, and placed the boy for adoption the next day through the now-defunct Adoption Center for Choice.
Nevares, who had not known of M.L.S.'s plans, filed a petition in Utah's 4th District Court two days after he learned of the birth to establish paternity, court documents say.
M.L.S. and the Adoption Center said Nevares had failed to establish parental rights in Colorado prior to the mother placing the child for adoption, which they argued was required under Utah law. Judge Claudia Laycock granted judgment in their favor, and Nevares appealed that ruling.
The Utah Supreme Court reversed Laycock's decision in February 2015, ruling that Nevares was improperly denied an opportunity to contest the adoption. The matter was sent back to 4th District Court for further proceedings. Last November, Laycock dismissed the case on jurisdictional grounds, leading to the second appeal.