Biological father pays woman to bear his child as surrogate mother.
Bio dad is reportedly sentenced to prison on unrelated criminal charges.
Bio mother informally “places” baby with a married couple for much of his two years of life.
Bio mom changes her mind and seeks return of child to her custody.
A Utah trial court ruled that the child’s ongoing caregivers could retain custody of the baby and deny visitation to his bio mom.
The Utah Supreme Court reversed, concluding that the biological parents had superior rights to permanent custody of the boy.
The state’s high court held that the couple who had actually been raising the boy were “legal strangers” to him.
The court also held that access by the bio parents could only be blocked based on a finding of harm to the boy.
The supreme court remanded for a full-blown, custody determination, as though the custody dispute was merely between two typical biological parents.
Interestingly, however, the court expressed the hope that the bio parents would reach an agreement with the couple who had been caring for the baby, in a caring, stable home.
In light of the contractual arrangement between the boy’s biological parents and the arrangement (not entirely clear) between the bio mom and the couple who had been raising the boy, other states may well have arrived at a different outcome on the above facts.