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Father battling Utah law will get to see daughter soon

10:01 PM, Apr 27, 2012   |    comments
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"This is the 14th hearing," Pennie Gould said. "His hope was really thin."

It's been hard for Gould to watch her fiancé, Rob Manzanares, go through it.

He's been through a long court battle to try and get custody of his little girl.

Manzanares is fighting against what he calls a "system of injustice" to try and get custody of his daughter after she was adopted in Utah without his consent.

A Utah law required Manzanares to file for paternity in Utah before his then-girlfriend, Carie Terry, gave birth. However, Manzanares says he didn't know Terry was having the baby in Utah and did not think she would place her for adoption. He had filed for paternity in Colorado where he and Terry lived.

After the child was born, Terry's sister and brother-in-law adopted the child.

Manzanares has only met his daughter once in a court conference room for a few minutes. That was when she was 10 months old. She's now 4.

Manzanares is finally on his daughter's birth certificate after he got the case transferred from Utah to Colorado.

In a hearing on Friday, a judge ruled Manzanares will get to see his daughter again soon.

"How he is introduced as father, friend, or relative is not for me to decide. I'll leave that to a therapist. But, he needs to have parenting time with this child within 30 days," the judge said.

"I can't explain the emotion, the happiness, after such a hard fight ... what this means to me," Manzanares said.

"I guess it's like a dream," Gould said as she cried.

In court it also came out that the child knows Terry as her "auntie."

"We need to think about that. When they spend time together now, is it as her aunt still or her mother? I mean, what are we going to do?" the judge asked.

Either way, in one hearing everything changed. Manzanares will get to know his daughter.

"This is a history setting day," he said.

Next up is a custody trial to determine who will raise the little girl: Manzanares, the birth mother, or both of them jointly. The judge says that choice will be about what's best for the child.

But Manzanares now knows he will still be part of his daughter's life.

Fathers across the country in similar battles are following Manzanares' case, hoping it will change their custody fights as well.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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