You asked whether P~ would be considered the child of NH T~ under Utah intestacy laws
and be entitled to child’s benefits where an Arizona court terminated the NH’s parent-child
relationship with P~.
Under Utah law, an order terminating the parent-child relationship does not extinguish
the right of the child to inherit from the parent. Since the NH is domiciled in Utah
and P~ is his natural child, she is eligible to inherit from him under Utah law notwithstanding
the Arizona termination order.
The NH married E~ in December 2007, and P~ was born during the marriage in September
2008. P~’s birth certificate lists the NH as her father. In August 2017, however,
a county court in Arizona terminated the NH’s parental rights and the parent-child
relationship with P~. P~ currently lives in Virginia with her mother, E~. The NH lives
in Utah and receives Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB); he identified three children
including P~ in his DIB application filed in May 2017. The NH was domiciled in Utah when P~ applied for DIB in October 2017.
P~ Is Eligible for Child’s Benefits Because She Can Inherit from the NH Despite the
Court Order Terminating Her Parent-Child Relationship with the NH
In evaluating the parent-child relationship for purposes of child’s benefits, the
agency looks to the intestate succession laws of the state in which the NH was domiciled
when the child applied for benefits. 42 U.S.C.A. § 416(h)(2)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.355(b);
POMS GN 00306.001(C)(1)(a).
P~ applied for benefits in October 2017. The Arizona termination order, issued in
August 2017, referenced an Arizona address for the NH. However, the NH provided a
Utah address when he applied for DIB in May 2017, and continues to receive mail at
that address; development of his DIB application also shows that he received medical
care in Utah during 2017. We think this evidence sufficiently establishes the NH’s
domicile in Utah. See POMS GN 00305.001(B)(2) (domicile).
P~ is the NH’s natural child under Utah’s intestate succession laws. See Utah Code Ann. §§ 75-2-114(1) (parent and child relationship established as provided in Utah Uniform
Parentage Act); 78B-15-201(2)(a) (father and child relationship established by presumption
of paternity); 78B-15-204(1)(a) (man is presumed father of a child born during marriage)
(West 2015). Assuming that a Utah court would recognize and give effect to the Arizona
termination order, it would not affect P~’s right to inherit. In Utah, an order terminating the parent-child
relationship does not terminate “the right of the child to inherit from the parent.”
Id. § 78A-6-513(1). Utah law explicitly preserves the right of a child to inherit from
a parent even when a court terminates the parent-child relationship. P~ is thus eligible
to inherit from the NH under Utah law, and she is entitled to child’s benefits under
the NH’s record.
The court order terminating the NH’s parent-child relationship with P~ does not prevent
her from inheriting through the NH under Utah’s intestate succession laws. She is
thus entitled to child’s benefits under the NH’s record.